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John Charles 


Travels from 1838 to 1844 




John Charles Fremont 

Volume 1 : Travels from 1838 to 1844 
and Map Portfolio 



"Railroads followed the lines of his jour- 
neyings — a nation followed his maps to 
their resting place — and cities have risen 
on the ashes of his lonely campfires," wrote 
Jessie Benton Fremont after the death of 
her husband. She was speaking of a man 
whose exploits, commendable and other- 
wise, made him one of the best-known fig- 
ures of the last century. 

John Charles Fremont (1813-90) ex- 
plored the American West at a time when 
thousands of migrants were hungry for in- 
formation, and thus became — with the 
possible exception of Lewis and Clark — 
the most acclaimed traveler of the nine- 
teenth century in the lands beyond the 
Missouri River. He married the daughter 
of a powerful western senator, Thomas 
Hart Benton, and added the advantages of 
family influence to his own store of in- 
genuity, endurance, and courage. 

Fremont's expeditions across the plains 
and Rockies added much to the nation's 
growing body of knowledge about the 
West. They also served to involve him in 
politics and high finance, where he was far 
from successful. He was the first presi- 
dential candidate of the new Republican 
Party in 1856, losing the race to Buchanan. 
He made a fortune by developing gold 
mines in California, only to see it slip 
away in dubious financial schemes after 
the Civil War. He played a major role in 
the conquest of California, then was court- 
martialed for his early failure to recognize 
Stephen Watts Kearny as governor. His 

(Continued on bacl^ flap) 


John Charles Fremont 

John Charles Fremont as he looked about 1849. From a print in 
Walter Colton's Three Years in California (New York, 1850). 


John Charles 


Travels from 1838 to 1844 





John Charles Fremont 


Allan Nevins (chairman) 

Herman R. Friis 

Robert W. Johannsen 

Dale L. Morgan 

© 1970 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 

Manufactured in the United States of America. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 73-100374. 

252 00086 2 


The preparation of the first volume and Map PortfoUo of Fremont's 
travels began in 1965. Since then the editors have solicited advice and 
assistance from scores of persons and institutions all over the United 
States— and a few abroad. To each we are profoundly grateful, but 
we must be content to name specifically only those institutions 
which provided funds for research and publication. 

The National Historical Publications Commission gave its early 
endorsement to the undertaking, and provided not only search facil- 
ities in the National Archives but also funds for the payment of 
wages. The Research Board of the University of Illinois gave gener- 
ously, as always, for the cost of wages, travel, photocopies, and other 
necessities. The University of Illinois Press, going beyond its tradi- 
tional role as publisher, became an actual sponsor of the project, 
providing released time for the senior editor, office space for both 
editors, and other considerations. 

We are also grateful to Miss Jessie Benton Fremont, of Washing- 
ton, D.C., the granddaughter of John Charles Fremont, for repre- 
senting the family in granting us permission to use certain papers 
not in government repositories. 

30 June 1970 

Donald Jackson 

Mary Lee Spence 



Introduction ^^^^ 

Symbols xliii 

Early Years and the 1842 Expedition to South Pass 

1. J. J. ABERT to FREMONT, 1 6 APRIL 1 838 3 

2. EXCERPT FROM THE M^Wo/r/, [1838] 4 

3. FREMONT TO MRS. ANN B. HALE, 6 JUNE 1 838 10 


5. EXCERPT FROM THE Mcmoirs, [1838] 13 




18 OCT. 1838 25 


10. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 26 OCT. 1838 28 


12 NOV. 1838 28 



14. FREMONT TO J. J. ABERT, I JAN. 1839 44 

15. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 4 JAN. 1839 44 

16. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 2 MARCH 1839 45 


2 MARCH 1839 4" 


19. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 5 MARCH 1 839 48 



22. EXCERPT FROM THE McmoirS, [1839] 5^ 




25. FREMONT TO J. J. ABERT, 10 NOV. 184O 84 

26. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, I9 NOV. 184O 85 


28. J. J. ABERT TO JOEL R. POINSETT, 25 JAN. 184I 94 


30. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 4 JUNE 184I 9" 




34. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 10 OCT. 184I lOI 





38. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 25 APRIL 1842 121 

39. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 25 APRIL 1842 122 

40. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 9 MAY 1842 I23 

41. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 26 MAY 1842 I23 



44. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 8 JULY 1842 I26 


28 JULY 1842 127 


I AUG. 1842 128 

47. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, I3 AUG. 1842 I28 


49. JOHN TORREY TO ASA GRAY, 1 8 NOV. 1 842 1 30 


51. ASA GRAY TO JOHN TORREY, [5 DEC. 1 842] 133 

52. FREMONT TO J. C. EDWARDS, 10 DEC. 1842 134 

53. FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1842 13^ 

54. ASA GRAY TO JOHN TORREY, [fEB. 1843] 15^ 

55. J. J. ABERT TO THOMAS H. BENTON, 10 MARCH 1843 159 

56. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 10 MARCH 1843 160 


58. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, I4 MARCH 1843 ^^4 



61. Report OF the first expedition, 1843 '^^ 

catalogue of plants collected by lieutenant FREMONT 

in his expedition to the rocky mountains, 

by john torrey 286 

astronomical observations 312 

meteorological observations 317 

The Expedition of 1843-44 to Oregon and California 

62. john torrey to asa gray, 26 march 1 843 34 1 

63. j. j. abert to fremont, 22 april 1 843 342 

64. j. j. abert to fremont, 2.6 april 1 843 342 

65. fremont to stephen watts kearny, [ca. 8 may 1843] 343 

66. p. chouteau, jr., and company to employees of the 

company, 10 may 1843 344 

67. j, j. abert to fremont, i5 may 1843 344 

68. j. j. abert to fremont, 22 may 1 843 345 

69. george engelmann to asa gray, 4 june 1 843 346 

70. j. j. abert to robert campbell, 22 june 1843 347 

71. j. j. abert to jessie benton fremont, 23 june 1843 349 

72. j. j, abert to robert campbell, 3 july 1 843 350 

73. j. j. abert to thomas h. benton, 10 july 1843 350 

74. jessie benton fremont to adelaide talbot, 

16 SEPT. 1843 352 

75. J. J. ABERT TO ROBERT CAMPBELL, 18 SEPT. 1 843 353 

76. FREMONT TO J. J. ABERT, 24 NOV. 1 843 354 






24 MARCH 1844 360 


83. FREMONT TO J. J. ABERT, 21 AUG. [1844] 3^^ 





87. ASA GRAY TO JOHN TORREY, I OCT. [1844] 3^9 



90. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 28 OCT. 1 844 372 

91. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 21 NOV. 1 844 373 

92. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 3 DEC. 1844 374 



95. FINANCIAL RECORDS, I JAN. 1843-3I DEC. 1844 377 



98. ASA GRAY TO JOHN TORREY, [l2 JAN. 1845.'^] 392 

99. J. J. ABERT TO JOHN J. AUDUBON, 22 JAN. 1845 393 

100. ASA GRAY TO JOHN TORREY, 28 JAN. [1845] 394 

101. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 7 FEB. 1845 395 

102. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 12 FEB. 1845 395 

103. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 26 FEB. 1845 397 

104. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 26 FEB. 1845 398 

105. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, I MARCH 1845 399 

106. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 5 MARCH 1845 399 



109. FREMONT TO [eDWARD M. KERn], 20 MARCH 1845 4OI 


111. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 25 MARCH 1 845 4O3 




115. FREMONT TO MRS. TOWNSEND, 4 APRIL [1845?] 405 



118. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 10 APRIL 1845 407 






123. ASA GRAY TO JOHN TORREY, 23 APRIL [1845] 412 

124. THOMAS H. BENTON TO [wiLLIAM L. MARCy], 25 APRIL 1845 414 

125. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 26 APRIL 1845 415 


127. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 2 MAY 1845 416 


129. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 7 MAY 1 845 418 

130. FREMONT TO J. J. ABERT, 9 MAY 1845 419 


132. J. J. ABERT TO ASBURY DICKINS, I4 MAY 1845 421 

133. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, I4 MAY 1 845 422 

134. FREMONT TO JOHN TORREY, 18 MAY 1845 423 


136. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 2.6 MAY 1 845 425 






J. c. Fremont's exploring expedition to 


1843-44: BY JOHN TORREY 



Bibliography 807 

Index 819 



hot springs gate 
devil's gate 






















Prosopis odorata 7"^ 

Arctomecon calijornka 7"7 

Fremontia vermicularis 77^ 

Pinus monophyllus 775 



BEAR RIVER between 470 and 471 



RIO DE LOS AMERICANOS between 662 and 663 



The career of John Charles Fremont was marred by disasters 
large and small, but his successes were monumental. His character 
was flawed by vanity and by hunger for recognition and financial 
gain, but there was enough toughness of spirit to carry him five times 
across the plains and Rockies under conditions of intense privation, 
leading bands of courageous men. In his lifetime some good men 
loved him and others despised or mistrusted him. Even today there 
are strongly differing points of view about his motives and his 
methods, but there is less dispute about his place in the history of 
his century. 

Fremont's activities in the West, and his published reports, af- 
fected the lives of thousands of migrants who plied the Oregon and 
California trails. His success as an explorer, his interest in politics, 
and his marriage to the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton 
of Missouri made him a familiar and sometimes influential figure 
in Washington. He played a major role in the conquest of Califor- 
nia, only to be court-martialed for his early failure to recognize 
Stephen Watts Kearny as governor. He was the first presidential 
standard bearer of the newly formed Republican Party in 1856. His 
commission as major general in the Civil War, and his handling of 
his two brief commands, involved him in controversy and earned 
him the disfavor of Abraham Lincoln. 

After acquiring great riches in the development of gold mines on 
the Mariposa grant in California, he lost the Mariposa and much of 
his wealth in financial schemes after the Civil War. At last he was 
surviving by means of sinecures — such as the governorship of Ari- 
zona Territory — and the income from the writings of his wife, 
Jessie Benton Fremont. When he died on 13 July 1890 he was 
nearly a pauper. Fremont's proudest legacy was what he had done 
before the age of forty, exploring the West and making it known — 
through his narratives — to a nation hungry to know. 


These volumes will deal with those first forty years of his life, and 
how they affected the future of the nation. 

If one factor alone sets Fremont apart from his most notable pred- 
ecessors in the field of U.S. exploration, it is the accident of time. 
He was ready, and the public was ready, to turn all eyes to the West 
and discover what it had to hold for the mass of men. If Lewis and 
Clark had been able to carry out their travels under such strong 
public scrutiny, they, too, might have been considered "dashing 
figures." They lacked the aid of a blustering press agent such as 
Thomas Hart Benton (although having President Thomas Jefferson 
as a sponsor was not bad), but mainly they lacked an impatient pub- 
lic. Their public was curious, patient, proud, but with no thought in 
1804-6 of an Oregon Trail, an ox team and wagon, or a new life 
waiting beyond the Mississippi or the Rockies. 

Although time was on Fremont's side, and he had strong sup- 
porters in Secretary of War Joel Poinsett and Senator Benton, he 
brought attributes of his own to the making of the Fremont legend. 
He brought audacity, courage, and a quick mind which had ab- 
sorbed a good deal of knowledge in the fields of natural history, 
geography, and surveying. He also brought Jessie into the picture — 
a beautiful and talented girl, inheritor of her father's concern for 
power and prestige, and with an ability to write which would pro- 
vide young Fremont with a lifelong amanuensis and ghost-writer. 

Senator Benton aided the young explorer in many ways, but no 
one can say that he freely gave his daughter in marriage; young John 
Charles accomplished that on his own. Together, John Charles and 
Jessie comprised a team such as one does not find again in U.S. 
history, perhaps until another truly dashing pair — George Arm- 
strong Custer and his wife Elizabeth — appear upon the scene. And to 
stretch the analogy just a bit, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh 
come to mind in more recent times. 

Back again to the importance of the period, and the social and 
political climate in which Fremont was to operate. It is well known 
that his expeditions, especially the first two, often followed the 
trails of other wagon trains. It is important, though, to say some 
wagon trains, and very early ones at that. We present a note (p. 
I73n) which indicates how really early in the migration period his 
operations began. Only two emigrant trains had preceded him: the 
John Bartleson party to California in 1841, and the Elijah White 
party to Oregon in 1842. 


It is almost impossible to overstate the enthusiasm with which the 
nation greeted the printed reports of the first two western expedi- 
tions. The first publication, which in our edition begins on p. 168, 
introduced a new kind of intelligence from the West: readable nar- 
rative combined with competent maps, both produced from personal 
observation. But it carried the reader only to the Rockies. It was the 
second report (p. 426), with its description of the route via Laramie, 
Fort Hall, and Walla Walla to the lush Oregon valleys, then on 
through the length of California and back across the southwestern 
deserts, that made Fremont's reputation secure. 

It seemed natural that members of the Congress should wish the 
two reports issued as one volume, with a single map of the entire 
area covered. The records of Congress contain many a letter or 
memorandum (some of which we cite) dealing with delays in pub- 
lication, changes in printing orders, urgent requests for copies before 
they were finished. There was a dispute in the House over whether 
members of the previous Congress, not re-elected, should receive 
copies — and the new Congress resolved that they should not. And 
there were unconfirmed reports that members of Congress or their 
employees were selling copies to the public. 

The many editions issued by trade publishers were not long in 
coming. By 1846, L. W. Hall in Syracuse had issued a version with 
no maps or illustrations. At least two Washington publishers (Tay- 
lor, Wilde, & Co., and H. Polkinhorn) published their own editions, 
as did H. E. Phinney in Cooperstown, N.Y. Foreign editions in- 
cluded those of Wiley & Putnam, London, in 1846, and a German 
version in 1847. 

The two Washington publishing houses which had been awarded 
the contract for the combined report were Gales and Seaton, printers 
of the Daily National Intelligencer, and Blair and Rives, publishers 
of the Congressional Globe. Both of these publishers, having early 
access to the report, hastened to print extracts and reviews. The 
Intelligencer, for example, ran a total of twenty-three columns be- 
tween 7 and 26 August 1845. On 28 August it followed with three 
columns, including an evaluation of the second expedition and some 
remarks on the third, which was then in progress. 

A laudatory review appeared in the July 1845 issue of the United 
States Magazine and Democratic Review, in which Lewis and Clark 
were compared unfavorably to Fremont: 


The honorary reward of Brevet Captain has been bestowed upon him. 
Lewis and Clark received something more substantial, — double pay, 
sixteen hundred acres of land each, promotion to generals, appointment 
of governors, commission to treat with Indians, and copy-right in their 
Journal. Certainly as first explorers, they were entitled to great merit; 
but they lack the science which Capt. Fremont carried into his expedi- 
tions; and, returning on the same line by which they went out, their dis- 
coveries lack the breadth and variety which distinguish his. His work 
was lacking [i.e., needed] to complete the view of the great region from 
the Mississippi to the Pacific ocean; and it has come at the exact moment 
that it was most wanted, and will be most useful. Great events are pend- 
ing of which Oregon is the subject. . . . We assume to say that the publi- 
cation of this Report will increase the emigration to Oregon, and will 
sharpen the appetite of two great nations [Great Britain and the U.S.] 
for the possession of a river whose mouth happens to be the only outlet 
to the sea. . . . 

The reviewer's allusions to Lewis and Clark could have profited by 
a bit more research, but his enthusiasm for Fremont typified the 
mood of the country. 

Other great events were to follow: the third expedition, resulting 
in Fremont's involvement in the conquest of California; his court- 
martial, which did little damage to his own public image and gave 
California an untold wealth of publicity; and then the unsuccessful 
campaign for the presidency. 

Perhaps the loss of the election marked the moment when the 
bright star began to fade. Perhaps it was the Civil War, during 
which he proved to be no military man. Somehow the years sped by, 
riches came and went, and at last he was old. It is certain that he died 
poor, but less certain that he died entirely bitter — for there were 
bright memories to temper the unhappy ones and much achievement 
mingled with his many failures. Among his effects at the time of his 
death was a scrap of paper bearing a poem he had written near the 
end of his life as he was crossing the Continental Divide on a train. 
Part of it reads: 

Long years ago I wandered here, 
In the midsummer of the year. 

Life's summer too. 
A score of horsemen here we rode. 
The mountain-world its glories showed. 

All fair to view. 


Now changed the scene, and changed the eyes 
That here once looked on glowing skies 

When summer smiled. 
These riven trees and wind-swept plain 
Now shew the winter's dread domain — 

Its fury wild. 

The buoyant hopes and busy life 
Have ended all in hateful strife 

And baffled aim. 
The world's rude contact killed the rose, 
No more its shining radiance shows 

False roads to fame. 

Where still some grand peaks mark the way 
Touched by the light of parting day 

And memory's sun. 
Backward amid the twilight glow 
Some lingering spots yet brightly show 

On roads hard won. 

The verses recalled much, and Jessie saved them. Then she penned 
a sentence of her own which summed up the labors of a valiant 
traveler and the pride of a devoted wife. "Railroads followed the 
lines of his journeyings — a nation followed his maps to their resting 
place — and cities have risen on the ashes of his lonely campfires 



When John Charles Fremont was born, 21 January 1813, his 
parents already had scandalized their community and moved away 
in disgrace. The fact that they never married was to plague Fremont 
all his life, but particularly during the presidential race of 1856 

^ The poem is in the library of the Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, and 
Jessie's quotation is from a draft manuscript, "Great Events during the Life 
of Major General John C. Fremont," Bancroft Library, Berkeley. Hereafter, 
libraries and other repositories will be referred to by the symbols used in the 
National Union Catalog of the Library of Congress (see listing on pp. 


when the word "illegitimate" came frequently to the lips of his 
political enemies. 

The father was Charles Fremon, a Frenchman from the neigh- 
borhood of Lyons, said to have made his way to Virginia from Santo 
Domingo. One biographer says he was on his way to join an aunt in 
Santo Domingo, about 1800, when he was captured by an English 
man-of-war and held prisoner for a few years.^ Exactly when Fre- 
mon came to Virginia is not known, but by the spring of 1808 he 
seems to have been teaching French in the fashionable academy 
operated by L. H. Girardin and David Doyle, near Richmond. 
When he was dismissed after a year on the grounds that he was not 
a fit person to give instruction to young ladies, he opened a night 
school for the French language and tutored in private homes. He 
later rejoined Girardin at a new location.^ 

By this time he had rented a small house from John Pryor and 
had soon alienated the affections of Mrs. Pryor, the former Ann 
Beverly Whiting, who was a good deal younger than her husband. 
One source says the two lovers actually hoped for Pryor's death so 
that they might marry. Richmond society was rocked by the scandal 

^ BiGELow, 11-12. This 1856 campaign biography was prepared from ma- 
terial assembled by Jessie. Some of the problems she encountered, particularly 
with regard to JCF's mother, are reflected in letters to Elizabeth Blair Lee, 
2 July [1856], and to John Bigelow, 7 July [1856], in the Blair-Lee Papers, 
NjP, and Bigelow Collection, NN. Pierre-Georges Roy, a Canadian archivist, 
believes that JCF's father was actually Louis-Rene Fremont of Quebec, who 
established himself in Virginia. See roy [1] and [2]. It is not clear when the 
"t" was added to the name; in early newspaper advertisements the father's 
name is "Fremon." In fact, receipts for French and dancing lessons in the 
Wayne-Stites Anderson Papers, GHi, are signed "Jean Charles Fremon" 
though Charles Fremon seems to have been the common form. Young Fre- 
mont was variously called "J.C.," "J. Charles," or "Charles" in his early years. 
He did not begin to use the accented form of "Fremont" until he began his 
association with the French scientist Joseph N. Nicollet. 

^ In an advertisement in the Richmond Enquirer of 8 March 1808, Girardin 
mentions "a well-qualified native of France" as his assistant. Moncure Robin- 
son (1802-91), an eminent engineer, claimed that he studied French under 
Charles Fremon at the College of William and Mary (osborne). It is more 
likely that he studied under Fremon at Girardin's academy, which he at- 
tended — as did also Thomas Jefferson's grandson, T. Jefferson Randolph. For 
Fremon's dismissal, see letter of David Doyle to L. H. Girardin in the Vir- 
ginia Patriot, 23 Aug. 1811. For Fremon's proprietorship of his own school 
and his reaffiliation with Girardin, see advertisements in the Richmond En- 
quirer, 24, 27, and 31 Oct. and 10 and 14 Nov. 1809; 12 June, -27 July, and 11 
Sept. 1810. 


in July 1811. Girardin and his current partner, John Wood, lost their 
academy and feuded publicly over the responsibility for the hiring 
of Fremon. Finally Mrs. Pryor left her husband's bed and board 
and went with Fremon to Williamsburg, Norfolk, and then Charles- 

In a divorce petition some months later, Pryor charged that his 
wife had left the house voluntarily. But Ann wrote her brother-in- 
law that she had been "turned out of doors at night and in an ap- 
proaching storm" and threatened with "the most cruel and violent 
treatment" if she remained in the house. She also wrote that she and 
Fremon were poor, "but we can be content with little, for I have 
found that happiness consists not in riches." Pryor's intention of 
applying to the Virginia legislature for a divorce was widely circu- 
lated, and of course Ann hoped that he would succeed. But the 
House of Delegates rejected the petition 13 December 1811 without 
giving a reason.'* 

By the fall of 1811, the Fremons, as we shall now call the pair 
although apparently they were never able to marry, were in Savan- 
nah, Ga. During the next year Charles tried a number of ways to 
make ends meet: he gave French lessons, worked in a dancing 
academy, took in boarders, opened his own dancing school, gave 
cotillion parties, and opened a livery stable at his residence. 

So it was that John Charles Fremont was born into a nomadic 

^ John Pryor was a veteran officer of the Revolution who kept livery stables 
in Richmond and gave the city its first amusement resort, Haymarket Gar- 
dens. In 1811, he was "far advanced in years," according to his divorce 
petition, and bigelow, 20, says he was sixty-two when he married seventeen- 
year-old Ann Whiting in 1796. But he was vigorous enough to take the field 
against the British in 1813, and did not die until 1823 (Richmond Enquirer, 
9 Feb. 1813, and p. c. clark). Ann Beverly Whiting was the daughter of 
the wealthy Thomas Whiting, a burgess for Gloucester in 1775-76, and 
Elizabeth Sewell. She was born shortly before the death of her father, whose 
will was dated 15 Oct. 1780. In 1796, with her "full consent" and that of her 
stepfather and guardian, Maj. Samuel Carey, she was married to Pryor. See 
BIGELOW, 13-20, and Pryor's manuscript petition for divorce of 1 Dec. 1811, 
Vi. For further details of the elopement and attempted divorce, see letter of 
John Wood to the public, Virginia Patriot, 26 July 1811; letter of David 
Doyle to Girardin, Patriot, 23 Aug. 1811; advertisements by Wood and 
Girardin regarding their separation, Richmond Enquirer, 12 and 16 July 
1811. No surviving copy has been found of a twenty-eight-page pamphlet pub- 
lished by Girardin, "pregnant with calumny and slander" according to Wood. 
Ann's letter to John Lowry, 28 Aug. 1811, was abstracted by Pryor in support 
of his divorce petition. For the negative decision on the divorce, see Journal 
of the Virginia House of Delegates, 181 1-12. 


family of unstable finances on 21 January 1813. His nurse was Han- 
nah, a family slave who had apparently been recovered after run- 
ning away the previous year. We know little about the next few 
years in the life of the family. They left Savannah, and a daughter, 
who died in infancy, was born in Nashville in 1814. From there the 
Fremons apparently wandered to Norfolk, where a second daugh- 
ter and a second son were born in 1815 and 1817. After Charles 
Fremon died in 1818, his widow and her small children stayed for 
a time in Virginia, and John Charles received his first schooling 
there. They were in Charleston by 1823, and in 1826 young John 
Charles had entered the law office of John W. Mitchell. Gone now 
was the family hope that he would become an Episcopal minister, 
though in June 1827 he was confirmed in St. Paul's Church by 
Bishop Bowen for St. Philip's congregation.^ 

The earliest Fremont document which has come to our attention 
derives from his service with attorney Mitchell. It is a subpoena 
issued by Mitchell to several persons and given to sixteen-year-old 
John Charles to serve. An endorsement on the reverse side reads: 

J. C. Fremont being duly sworn deponeth that he served on the 
within named witnesses personally this writ & gave them tickets — 
except the witness Alphy Berney whom he could not find. 

Sworn to before me 14 July 1828 J. Charles Fremont 

J. W. Mitchell" 

^ For sparse information about the Fremons during this period, see ad- 
vertisements in the Columbian Museum & Savannah Advertiser, 3 Oct. 1811, 
and in the Republican and Savannah Evening Ledger, 7 Dec, 1811; 2 Jan. 
and 31 Oct. 1812; 13 Feb. 1813. The assumption that the Fremons never 
married is based on the fact that Pryor did not die until 1823, five years 
after Fremon's death. There is no record that Pryor ever received his divorce. 
The MEMOIRS and bigelow do not mention the birth of a child named Ann in 
Nashville, but see roy [1]. bigelow indicates that the youngest daughter (and 
for him the only daughter) was born in Nashville. He does not name her or 
the younger son. roy gives their names as Elizabeth and Thomas-Archibald, 
but JCF's letter to his mother on 8 June 1838 (our Doc. No. 3) refers to 
"Frank," presumably his brother. 

A chronology of JCF's life in the New York Times, 21 July 1856, puts him 
in school in Virginia in 1820, in school in Charleston in 1823, and in Mitch- 
ell's law office in 1826. His confirmation in St. Paul's is substantiated by rec- 
ords inspected for us 6 Oct. 1966 by Sam T. Cobb, rector of St. Philip's. 

^ Subpoena of 10 July 1828, in Mitchell's hand, with JCF's signature on the 
endorsement, lU. 


Mitchell apparently concluded that the pulpit, rather than the 
bar, might be the better profession for John Charles after all, and 
took him to the school of J. Roberton, who prepared boys for the 
College of Charleston. It is from Roberton that we have our first 
description of the youth. If the memory of an elderly scholar some 
twenty-three years later can be relied upon, he was a boy of medium 
size, "graceful in manners, rather slender, but well formed, and 
upon the whole, what I would call handsome; of a keen, piercing 
eye, and a noble forehead seemingly the very seat of genius." To 
Roberton's astonishment, Fremont within a year had read Caesar, 
Nepos, Sallust, six books of Virgil, nearly all of Horace, two books of 
Livy, Graeca Minora, part of Graeca Majora, and four books of 
Homer's Iliad. He also made much progress in mathematics."^ 

Fremont, who seems to have continued working in Mitchell's law 
office while reading the classics and doing his calculations, entered 
the junior class in the College of Charleston in May 1829. The col- 
lege records for 1830 list him as Charles or C. J. Fremont in the 
Scientific Department. The records also show that he was away dur- 
ing the first three months of 1830, "teaching in the country by 
permission." He resumed his studies in April, but as the year ad- 
vanced his absences became frequent as he spent more and more 
time with a Creole family who had a beguiling, black-eyed daughter 
named Cecilia. He had fallen deeply in love, and though the college 
faculty was patient because of his recent good scholarship and his 
abundant promise, he was finally dismissed 5 February 1831 for 
"incorrigible negligence." He missed graduation by three months. 
But about five years later he applied to the trustees for a B.A. degree 
and his request was granted.^ 

That his career seemed in jeopardy was of little concern; he 
treated the period of freedom from studies as a holiday: "The days 

■^ROBERTON, 3-5. He does not mention JCF by name but the identity of 
the student is almost certain; Roberton is quoted in bigelow, the memoirs, 
and in an item on JCF in the New York Times, 27 June 1856. The Benton 
Papers, MoSHi, contain two letters from Jessie to Roberton, one of which 
expresses the hope that he will repeat his visits to the Fremonts and another 
assuring him and "his inquiring friend" that JCF was born and reared in the 
Protestant Episcopal Church. 

^ For JCF's college record, see the journal of the College of Charleston, 
weekly record, Jan. 1830-Feb. 1831, and for his receipt of the B.A. degree, 
the journal of the proceedings of the trustees, 19 March 1838, p. 263. One of 
the trustees of the college when JCF received his belated degree was his 
friend Joel Poinsett (easterby, 261). 


went by on wings. In the summer we [Fremont and the two boys 
in the Creole family] ranged about in the woods, or on the now 
historic islands, gunning or picnicking, the girls dangerously near 
the breakers on the bar. I remember as in a picture, seeing the 
beads of perspiration on the forehead of my friend Henry as he 
tugged frantically at his oar when we had found ourselves one 
day in the suck of Drunken Dick, a huge breaker that to our eyes 
appeared monstrous as he threw his spray close to the boat. For us 
it was really pull Dick pull Devil." 

Evenings were also spent with Cecilia and her brothers, though 
occasionally he absented himself to study a work on astronomy or to 
read a chronicle of men "who had made themselves famous by 
brave and noble deeds, or infamous by cruel and base acts."^ 

The family's poverty would not permit Fremont too long a holi- 
day. He obtained positions as a teacher of mathematics in various 
schools (including John A. Wooten's private school), and also took 
charge of an "Apprentices' Library," a collection of books with some 
added instructional facilities, and labored as a private surveyor.^" 
The death of his sister Elizabeth in 1832, and the departure of his 
brother to try a career on the stage, awoke John Charles to sterner 
realities and ended this desultory phase of his life. 

He now began to come into association with a number of dis- 
tinguished men. The first to exert an influence upon his career was 
Joel Poinsett (1799-1851), whose home was on the outskirts of 
Charleston. Poinsett had been minister to Mexico, and now during 
Fremont's teaching days was a principal leader of the Union men of 
South Carolina in the nullification controversy of 1830-32. From 
him, and from Thomas Hart Benton later, Fremont imbibed the 
Unionist views, as opposed to sectional interests, which remained 
with him all his life. It was certainly through Poinsett's influence, 
but not with his approval, that he obtained a civilian post as teacher 
of mathematics to the midshipmen on board the U.S.S. Natchez, 
which had been sent to Charleston to uphold the power of the fed- 
eral government to collect the tariffs declared null and void by the 
state of South Carolina. When compromise averted a possible out- 
break of war between the state and federal governments in April 
1833, the Natchez returned to Hampton Roads. The next month, 

^ The period spent by JCF with the Creole family is discussed in memoirs, 

^'^ NEViNs, 17; BENTON [2]; Ncw York Times, 21 July 1856. 


under the command of Capt. John P. Zantzinger, she sailed with 
Fremont abroad for a two-year cruise in South American waters." 

Fremont, who drew $25.00 a month plus rations, maintained that 
the cruise had no future bearing on his career, though he "saw more 
of the principal cities and people than a traveller usually does." The 
routine of the ship, on which David G. Farragut was one of the 
lieutenants, was broken by a couple of duels while the vessel was 
anchored off Rio de Janeiro. In the first, one of the principals was 
killed; in the other, Fremont and Decatur Hurst, the seconds, put 
only powder in the pistols and then rowed the duelists across the 
bay. Finding "a narrow strip of sandy beach about forty yards long 
between the water and the mountain," they positioned their men 
and gave the word to fire. Of course the men remained upright and 
Fremont and Hurst were able to carry them "triumphantly back to 
the ship, nobody hurt and nobody wiser."^" 

In 1835, Congress provided for several professorships of mathe- 
matics in the Navy at $1,200 a year. Fremont received such an ap- 
pointment on 13 June 1835, with pay retroactive to 3 March. When 
the Natchez docked at New York, he went home to Charleston and 
wrote the following letter to Secretary of Navy Mahlon Dickerson: 

It will not perhaps be unknown to you that, when the U.S. Ship Natchez 
arrived at New York, I was attached to her as Professor of Mathematics. 
Immediately after information of the passage of the "Navy Bill" had been 
received on the Brazilian Station, I received from Commodore James 
Renshaw — to whose ship the Natchez, I had been attached as School- 
master from the commencement of her cruise — an appointment as "Pro- 
fessor of Mathematics in the Navy of the United States," bearing date 
June 13th 1835. Desirous of being again ordered to sea, I am somewhat 
at a loss to know if you will deem the above circumstances sufficient for 
that purpose, or whether references, with testimonials of character and 
qualifications, will be thought previously requisite. Should such be the 
case, I shall be happy to forward them to the Department, immediately 
on receiving a notification to that effect. I should, however, suppose that 
the fact of having been appointed to my station by Commodore Renshaw 

11 DNA-45, muster roll of the U.S.S. Natchez, 1833-35, p. 68. 

12 See MEMOIRS, 23. JCF says that Decatur Hurst was a nephew of Com- 
modore Stephen Decatur and later died from wounds sustained in a duel 
in Africa, callahan lists a William D. Hurst but not a Decatur Hurst. The 
duelists were Robert P. Lovell, Poinsett's nephew, and Enoch G. Parrott 
(1815-79), senior officer during much of the blockade of Charleston in the 
Civil War. 


will be deemed sufficient, and it may not be disadvantageous to me to 
state that I received from him, when the Natchez was on the eve of 
departure, an offer of being ordered to another ship of the squadron. It 
being to you, Sir, a matter of indifference to what ship I am ordered, it 
will not, I imagine, be considered out of rule respectfully to request that 
in the event of being successful in my application, I may be attached to 
the frigate United States, which vessel I understand will be shortly sent 
to the Mediterranean. My situation not permitting me long to remain 
unemployed, permit me to say, that, should it entirely suit your con- 
venience, I would be much gratified to be favored with an early answer 
to this communication.^^ 

Dickerson acknowledged Fremont's request for an appointment, 
saying that "When the public interest shall require the services of a 
Professor of Mathematics, it will give me pleasure to recur to your 
application." Impatiently, Fremont wrote again on 16 January 1836, 
sending Dickerson several enclosures including a testimonial from 
Captain Zantzinger. Again Dickerson acknowledged the letter with- 
out offering much hope. But in April he authorized Fremont to take 
the examination for professor of mathematics, and sent him to 
Baltimore for that purpose. He passed an examination conducted by 
Professors Edward C. Ward and P. I. Rodriquez, who reported: 
"Mr. J. C. Freemont was found qualified, & we take great pleasure in 
stating that he is a gentleman whose talents will be very beneficial to 
the Midshipmen of the navy."^"* 

That was in June. By October there still had been no assignment, 
and again Fremont wrote to Dickerson : 

Having been informed that several vessels are on the eve of sailing 
from the harbors of Norfolk & New York I have thought the present a 
fit opportunity respectfully to request that I may be appointed to one of 
them. Should it suit your convenience to send me an appointment I 
should be much gratified to find it for the Mediterranean— a wish which 
I am only induced to express because I understand no selections have as 
yet been made. A communication, with which I had the honor to be 
favoured from yourself immediately subsequent to having passed an 
examination at Bake, informs me that I shall be sent to sea as soon as my 
services may be required. I should in consequence not have applied at 

13 JCF to Dickerson, 31 Oct. 1835 (MeHi— Fogg Collection). 

14 Dickerson to JCF, 23 April 1836, DNA-45, Gen. Lbk, 22:252; memo- 
randum of the report of Ward and Rodriquez on the examination of profes- 
sors of mathematics, 3 June 1836, DNA-45, Gen. Lbk, 22:331; memoirs, 23. 


present but that I am led to believe such applications customary at the 
times when ships are being fitted out for sea.^^ 

Dickerson annotated the letter by instructing his clerk: "Inform 
him that a Professor of Mathematics is already detailed for the 
North Carolina but it may be in my power in a short time to assign 
you duty in a Cruising Vessel." He struck out the words "probably in 
a Ship destined to cruise on the Coast of Brazil." 

Not until 4 April 1837 did Dickerson write Fremont the long- 
awaited orders to duty. "You will proceed to Boston and report to 
Com. [John] Downes for duty as Professor of Mathematics on board 
the U.S.S. Independence." But a year and a half of waiting had been 
too much, and the necessity of earning a living had already forced 
Fremont to seek other opportunities. He declined the appointment.^ 

We have been able to trace in sketchy fashion Fremont's brief 
naval career. More hazy, however, is his service as a surveyor for 
Captain William G. Williams of the U.S. Corps of Topographical 
Engineers, who had been ordered to assist William G. McNeill in a 
survey of a route for the projected Charleston, Louisville, and Cincin- 
nati Railroad. This road would have done much to link the states 
of the West and Northwest with those of the South. Leading 
spirits in the enterprise were Fremont's benefactor Poinsett and Rob- 
ert Young Hayne, a prominent South Carolina politician who later 
became president of the railroad company. 

Fremont found the work congenial : "We were engaged in running 
experimental lines, and the plotting of the field notes sometimes 
kept us up until midnight. Our quarters were sometimes at a village 
inn and more frequently at some farmer's house, where milk and 
honey and many good things were welcome to an appetite sharp- 
ened by all day labor on foot and a tramp of several miles backward 
and forward, morning ^and evening. . . . The summer weather in 
the mountains was fine, the cool water abundant, and the streams 
lined with azaleas. . . . The survey was a kind of picnic with work 
enough to give it zest, and we were all sorry when it was over 


i'^ JCF to Dickerson, 19 Oct. 1836, DNA-45, Misc. LR, No. 69. 

i« Dickerson to JCF, 4 April 1837, DNA-45, Letters to Officers, Ships of 
War, 24:33. 

lUiEMoiRs, 23-24. See also J. J. Abert to W. G. Williams, 17 March 1836, 
DNA-77, LS, 2:63; and the joint report of the chief and associate engineers of 
the Charleston, Louisville, and Cincinnati Railroad, 7 Oct. 1837, Senate Doc. 
158, 25th Cong., 2nd sess., U.S. Serial 316. 


After the work on the railroad survey was suspended, Fremont 
again was employed with Captain Williams as his assistant engi- 
neer in the survey of the territory occupied by the Cherokee Indians. 
The land lay mainly in Georgia, though some cut across into North 
Carolina and Tennessee. Because the Cherokees were bitterly op- 
posed to the federal government's policy of transferring the major 
tribes to the area west of the Mississippi River, the War Department 
felt that a survey would aid military purposes if war broke out, or 
facilitate the distribution of land among the frontiersmen if it did 
not. It was a strenuous survey of forest and mountain country made 
hurriedly in mid-winter, but here, Fremont wrote many years later, 
"I found the path which I was 'destined to walk.' Through many of 
the years to come the occupation of my prime of life was to be 
among Indians and in waste places."^^ 

In December 1837, Fremont applied for a commission in the U.S. 
Corps of Topographical Engineers (Captain Williams had already 
written a supporting letter). In February 1838, Williams was in- 
structed to come to Washington as soon as his survey was completed 
and to bring Fremont with him. In March, with the job done, Fre- 
mont spent a few days in Charleston and then proceeded to Wash- 
ington. His friend Poinsett, now Secretary of War, requested that the 
twenty-five-year-old Fremont be assigned as a civilian assistant to 
the distinguished French scientist Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, who was 
about to embark upon an examination of the northern territory lying 
between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. While he was away on 
the first of his two expeditions with Nicollet, Fremont's commission 
as a lieutenant in the Topographical Corps was approved.^^ 

From this point in Fremont's life, the documents tell the story. 

^^ MEMOIRS, 50. It is difficult to say just how long ICF worked on the 
Cherokee survey in 1837-38, as the documents are few. Some of the field 
notebooks in which he kept his raw surveying data are in DNA-77, and 
there is one voucher which may not cover his complete service. Dated 19 April 
1838, it lists payment for "Salary as Asst. Engr. in the Cherokee Nation N.C. 
&c. for 43 days, viz. from the 6th March to the 18th April 1838 inclusively 
at $1200.00 per annum, $141.04." It appears to have been JCF's final payment, 
but may not have been the only one. DNA-217, Records of the Third Auditor, 
Acct. No. 3649, Voucher No. 158. 

^^ The foregoing summary of ICF's early years is not intended as a com- 
plete biography. For a more detailed account of this period, see nevins, 1-28. 



"It is not a cheerful task, that of going over and destroying old 
letters and papers, but it is better than having them get into wrong 
hands. ... I will be thankful when I am all through with it for it 
is very hard to burn up the letters of those we love."^^ So wrote Fre- 
mont's daughter Elizabeth in 1907 as she pillaged what was left of 
her parents' literary remains. It is an old story, and a source of an- 
guish to the historian. But papers tend to survive all their natural 
enemies: not only fire, flood, and mildew but the busy destructive- 
ness of descendants. And so public a figure as Fremont must of 
necessity lodge a great many documents in relatively safe places. 

Of the mauscript materials available to the student of Fremont 
and his times, most are in the National Archives and the Library of 
Congress. Of the several smaller collections elsewhere, a few were 
placed in the public trust by members of the family. There are, as 
far as we can discern, no papers of John Charles or Jessie Benton 
Fremont still in family hands, but there are many in private collec- 
tions. All these sources — the public repositories and private holdings 
— have been searched as thoroughly as possible for what is substan- 
tial and informative. A man with as many business, political, and 
military interests as Fremont could not avoid producing much trivia. 
No sensible editor would undertake a complete edition of Fremont 
papers. He would seize most gratefully upon every shred which 
bears upon the expeditions of 1838-54, for such documents are not 
plentiful. For other activities of Fremont, however, he would find it 
necessary to be selective — even in regard to such vital events as the 
Bear Flag Revolt. 

In this series we combine unpublished manuscript materials with 
Fremont's published reports and selections from his Memoirs. The 
previously published works have never been thoroughly annotated, 
and the hitherto unpublished letters and documents provide much 
new material for such annotation. 

The published documents upon which Fremont's reputation came 
to rest in his own lifetime are here listed chronologically. Joseph N. 
Nicollet's map, but not the Report, is included, and both are dis- 

-° Elizabeth Benton Fremont to Sarah McDowell Preston, 6 Aug. 1907 
(KyU — Preston Family Papers). 


cussed elsewhere as a factor in Fremont's development as an explorer 
and scientific observer. 

1. Northern Boundary of Missouri, H.R. Doc. 38, 27th Cong., 3rd 
sess., U.S. Serial 420. A report of Fremont's explorations of the Des 
Moines River, as high as the Raccoon Fork, in 1841. The manuscript 
version is used as a text in the present volume. 

2. A Report on an Exploration of the Country Lying between the 
Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains on the Line of the Kansas 
and Great Platte Rivers, Sen. Doc. 243, 27th Cong., 3rd sess., U.S. 
Serial 416. 

3. Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 
the Year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the Years 
1843-44, Sen. Exec. Doc. 174, 28th Cong., 2nd sess., U.S. Serial 461. 

4. Message of the President of the United States Communicating 
the Proceedings of the Court Martial in the Trial of Lieutenant 
Colonel Fremont, Sen. Exec. Doc. 33, 30th Cong., 1st sess., U.S. 
Serial 507. 

5. Geographical Memoir upon Upper California, in Illustration of 
His Map of Oregon and California, Sen. Misc. Doc. 148, 30th Cong., 
1st sess., U.S. Serial 511. 

6. Memoirs of My Life, vol. 1 (no others issued), Chicago and 
New York, 1887. Originally published in ten parts in paper wrap- 

Unfortunately the Memoirs carry the story of Fremont's life only 
to 1847 — through the conquest of California and his appointment 
by Robert F. Stockton as governor of that territory. "I close the 
page," he wrote, "because my path of life led out from among the 
grand and lovely features of nature, and its pure and wholesome air, 
into the poisoned atmosphere and jarring circumstances of conflict 
among men, made subtle and malignant by clashing interests." The 
principal events of his remaining forty-three years of life his wife 
tried to chronicle, often with a view also to justifying his sometimes 
controversial decisions and behavior, in "Great Events during the 
Life of Major General John C. Fremont." Intended as a sequel to the 
Memoirs, the manuscript was never published. 

Although the publication of the Memoirs, which draws at times 
verbatim on the official Reports of his first two expeditions, was un- 
doubtedly prompted by economic necessity, a book recounting his 
daring and colorful achievements had long been envisioned. Theo- 
dore Talbot, about to set out in 1845 on the third expedition, wrote 


to his mother that "Capt. Fremont intends pubHshing his 3 reports, 
the two previous and the coming one, in one large and handsomely 
illustrated volume.""^ At one time, too, according to Mrs. Fremont, 
her husband and Senator Benton conceived a joint editorship of the 
letters written by, to, and about Fremont from 1842 to 1854, but 
many of the letters were burned in the fire that destroyed Benton's 
home in February 1855."" 

Fremont had long been conscious of Baron Alexander von Hum- 
boldt's wish for "truth in representing nature," and as early as 1842 
had attempted to record his explorations photographically. On both 
the first and second expeditions he had carried daguerreotype 
cameras, and though he was unable to use them successfully they do 
represent the first instances of the employment of a camera on west- 
ern expeditions sent out by the government. Edward M, Kern accom- 
panied the third expedition as an artist and on the fifth Solomon 
Nunes Carvalho, an authority in the whole field of photography 
and daguerreotyping, spent hours making "views." Carvalho's plates 
survived the storms of the Sierras and the perils of an ocean voyage 
and were brought back by Fremont to New York, where Mathew 
Brady was engaged to copy them by the wet process so that paper 
prints could be made. The paper prints, in turn, were used as copy 
by artists and engravers in preparing plates to illustrate Fremont's 
proposed book; for he now entered into a contract with George 
Childs of Philadelphia to bring out the journals of the various ex- 
peditions as a companion book of American travel to the Arctic 
journeys of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, then being published so profitably 
by the same house. The campaign of 1856 interrupted the work.^^ 

Soon after the election, work on the proposed book was begun 
again, and Jessie wrote Ehzabeth Blair Lee: "Say to your Father that 
the election looks ages back now that we are so interested in the 
book and if he could see the beautiful pictures that are growing un- 
der Mr. [James] Hamilton's brush he would like us turn his back 
on the 'busy world' & fly to the mountains on canvas." In April she 
wrote Mrs. Lee, "The book grows finely — not the text yet but the il- 
lustrations and all the preparatory work." And in May, Mrs. Blair re- 

21 Theodore Talbot to Adelaide Talbot fSt. Louis], 30 May 1845 (DLC— 
Talbot Papers). 

22 Jessie B. Fremont to R. [U.?] Johnson, Los Angeles, 28 Aug. 1890 
(James S. Copley Collection, La Jolla, Calif.). 




ceived the following note: "We are at work on the book which is 
our baby and pet — the summer plans are not fairly fixed as yet, we 
keep this house by the month for the convenience of having the 
artists work under Mr. Fremont's supervision. They have Lizzie's 
former bedroom & have made a grand collection of oily rags and 
bad smelling bottles and paints but the results are beautiful. Frank & 
Mr. Fremont grow young together over imaginary buffalo hunts 
located in certain valleys which look out upon them like nature 
from the canvas." 

On the same day in May she wrote Lizzie Lee, "All the astro- 
nomical & tedious part of the work is now finished as far as Mr. Fre- 
mont goes into it." A bit later she wrote, "Jacob [presumably Jacob 
Dodson, the Negro who had been JCF's servant on the 1845 expedi- 
tion] came on with me & I have had my pen in hand as much as 
five hours & a half at a time — We finish with him today — that much 
work is done."^^ 

But the writing was interrupted by Fremont's going to Califor- 
nia and Jessie to Europe. After the return of both in the late fall of 
1857, another attempt was made at writing, but soon all the Fre- 
monts were packing for California and the Mariposa. And while 
Jessie hoped "that Mr. Fremont will write as well as direct his work 
there," the book was not finished, the contract was canceled, and 
George Childs had to be reimbursed for all the expenditures he had 
made. The Civil War and the business schemes following it gave no 
leisure for writing. 


^^ See letters of Jessie B. Fremont to Elizabeth Blair Lee, Thursday night 
[1857?], 7 April 1857, 4 May [1857?], 2 [June?] 1857, and to Mrs. Blair, 
4 May 1857, all in NjP— Blair-Lee Papers. 

25 Jessie B. Fremont to Elizabeth Blair Lee, 15 Dec. [1857?]. JCF gave 
George Childs notes as a guaranty that he would be paid for the expenditures 
on the book, and on 9 Feb. 1864 Childs sought the aid of Maj. Simon Ste- 
vens to obtain an early settlement of the notes. Childs wrote, "I hope you are 
arranging the Fremont matter so that I can surely get the balance next week. 
Impress upon the General that it is of vital importance for me to have the 
amount this month" (PPAmP). Childs eventually sold the notes to Drexels 
(see George W. Childs to [Simon Stevens], Philadelphia, 20 Jan. 1865, NHi). 

So common was the knowledge that Fremont was preparing a book that 
Gouverneur Warren, in his Memoir to Accompany the Map of the Territory 
of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, at p. 50 
noted: "In press [1859] Colonel J. C. Fremont's Explorations, prepared by 
the author, and embracing all his expeditions. — Childs & Peterson, publishers. 
No. 602 Arch Street, Philadelphia." 


Jessie Benton Fremont, from the portrait by T. Buchanan Read 
Courtesy of the Southwest Museum 


When the Fremonts left for Arizona in 1878, the boxes containing 
materials for the books were placed in safes below the pavement at 
Morrell's and were thus saved when fire destroyed that warehouse 
and the many other Fremont treasures stored in it. In 1886, perhaps 
inspired by the success of General Grant's Personal Memoirs, work 
was resumed. The Fremonts took a house in Washington so that 
Mrs. Fremont could use the facilities of the Library of Congress, and 
her daughter Lily typed copy. Fire at the publishers, Belford and 
Clark and Co., once more threatened the book, but the plates were 
not destroyed and publication was delayed only a few weeks. Com- 
mercially the work was a disappointment, but after Fremont's death, 
Jessie — with the aid of her son Frank — continued what she hoped 
would constitute the second volume of the Memoirs. She wrote Mrs. 
George Browne, "I have such fine offers, which will complete the 
General's work, make money for Lil and give me a living object."^^ 

Such is the long history of the making of the Memoirs. 

In many ways, an edition of Fremont's papers is not a documenta- 
tion of the man, but rather of the events in vvhich he participated. 
Occasionally we draw from the journals and letters of other partici- 
pants in these events. The disastrous fourth expedition of 1848, for 
example, could not be thoroughly presented in any other fashion. 
And the letters of Jessie Benton Fremont are often more important 
than those of her husband in illuminating the Fremont legend. In- 
deed it may be said that because so many of Fremont's letters were 
composed and set to paper by Jessie, the documentary history of 
these two persons is but a single subject of study. 


The historical editor is taxed to make a meaningful contribution 
to the botanical aspects of an expedition. He cannot tell the sys- 
tematic botanist anything — indeed, must turn to him for counsel — 
and can give little aid to the untrained reader. As a minimum, he 
can attempt to give a recent scientific name, and perhaps a com- 
monly accepted colloquial name, to the plants enumerated in the 

2^ Jessie Benton Fremont to Nell, Los Angeles, 27 Jan. 1891 (CU-B — Fre- 
mont Papers). 


Even this modest assignment becomes difficult. Taxonomists are 
continually producing new combinations, referring plants to new 
genera, with the result that many possibilities confront the editor 
who is looking for the "correct" modern designation. The task is 
made harder by the fact that collectors of an earlier day, and even 
the scientists who analyzed their findings, followed no stabilized 
pattern. "For want of anything better the men in the field employed 
descriptive phrases or had recourse to colloquial names; misapplied 
the Latin names of plants with which they were familiar to others 
which to them appeared to be the same; employed Latin epithets 
(at times misspelled) which subsequently, because of priority or 
other rulings, came to be regarded as synonyms" (mc kelvey, 

After bringing our own mediocre botanical knowledge to bear on 
JCF's narrative, we turned for expert counsel to Professor Joseph 
Ewan, Tulane University, and his able research assistant, Nesta 
Dunn Ewan. These two were able to solve many of the problems 
that had puzzled us, and our gratitude to them is sincere and sub- 
stantial. Because we turned to them while they were researching at 
the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, far from such resources 
as were available for the writing of Professor Ewan's Rocky Moun- 
tain Naturalists (Denver, Colo., 1950), and other works on Ameri- 
can botany, our request was all the more inconvenient. 

When JCF's mention of a plant by common or scientific name is 
in virtually modern terminology, we let it stand without augmenta- 
tion. When a brief identification, either in brackets or in a note, will 
keep the narrative going without undue intrusion, we use that de- 
vice. And when a matter requires special comment, a somewhat 
longer note is used. Our chief botanical aid, however, is the index. 
Here we have placed every significant mention of a plant, by bino- 
mial or common name, followed by the accepted modern equivalent. 
Thus, when both JCF's narrative and our running annotation fails 
the reader, he may try the index. 

Vernacular names are given to species when such are available, but 
frequently the common name of the genus has necessarily been sub- 
stituted. Plants in the montane area, especially, may have no specific 
common names, and such generic names as aster, ragwort, and 
goldenrod prevail. 


The Documents 

The original text is followed as closely as the demands of typog- 
raphy will permit, with several departures based on common sense 
and the current practice of scholars. In the matter of capitalization 
the original is followed, unless the writer's intention is not clear, in 
which case we resort to modern practice. Occasionally in the inter- 
ests of clarity, a long, involved sentence, usually penned or dictated 
by a bare literate, is broken into two sentences. Missing periods at 
the ends of sentences are supplied, dashes terminating sentences are 
supplanted by periods, and superfluous dashes after periods are omit- 
ted. In abbreviations, raised letters are brought down and a period 
supplied if modern usage calls for one. Words underscored in manu- 
scripts are italicized. The complimentary closing is run in with the 
preceding paragraph, and a comma is used if no other end punctua- 
tion is present. The acute accent mark on the e in Fremont is sup- 
plied when it appears in the document and omitted where it does 
not appear, but it is used in all of our own headings and references 
to Fremont, even in the pre-1838 period. It was probably Fremont's 
association with the French scientist, Joseph N. Nicollet, that 
brought the accented e to the signature. Procedures for dealing with 
missing or illegible words, conjectural readings, etc. are shown in 
the list of symbols, pp. xliii-xliv. When in doubt as to how to proceed 
in a trivial matter, modern practice is silently followed ; if the question 
is more important, the situation is explained in a note. 

When a related document or letter is used, that is, not one directly 
to or from Fremont, extraneous portions are deleted and the deletion 
is indicated by a symbol. If a manuscript contains only a brief refer- 
ence to the pertinent subject, we are more likely to quote the passage 
in a note to some related letter than to print it as a separate docu- 

Because Jessie B. Fremont wrote and signed so many of her hus- 
band's letters, we have felt that there should be some indication of 
this to the reader. Our solution to the problem is set forth in the list 
of symbols. 

The Notes 

The first manuscript indicated is the one from which the tran- 
scription has been made; other copies, if known, are listed next. If 


endorsements or addresses are routine, their presence is merely noted, 
but if they contribute useful information, they are quoted in full. 
For example, see the endorsement on Fremont's application for a 
mountain howitzer for his third expedition, Vol. 1, Doc. No. 130. 

Material taken from printed texts is so indicated (printed, larkin, 
4:239-41), but no attempt is made to record other printed versions. 

Senders, receivers, and persons referred to in the manuscripts are 
briefly identified at first mention. For senders and receivers, this 
identification is made in the first paragraph of the notes and no ref- 
erence number is used. The reader can easily find the identification 
of an individual by locating in the index the page on which he is 
first mentioned. 

No source is cited for the kind of biographical information to be 
found in standard directories, genealogies, and similar aids. 

Names of authors in small capitals are citations to sources listed 
in the bibliography on pp. 807-17. This device enables us to keep 
many long titles and other impedimenta out of the notes. In the case 
of two or more works by the same author, a number is assigned as 
in J. D. Mc DERMOTT [1]. When a published work is being discussed, 
not merely cited, we often list it fully by author and title in the 

To avoid the constant repetition of the Fremont names, we have 
freely used the initials JCF and JBF for John Charles and Jessie. 


y^ii^^ ^t.€^^_a^ ^^<»._»-._ >^Scj«-»i 

•^ .^^ 

A letter by Fremont, in his handwriting 


2^ ^^^.^ ^^ .il.^^.^^'..-^ ^^^?- 

^t^^ ^^ <^!^«<£^Jt^-^ >^l«>*t-^__ .A^>J.-*^ ^^»-»*^^^ *!«- 


/y^r^zr~ A-^^^^^ .^^;^^^^-- ^^ ^^^..^^ .^..^^^ 

A letter by Fremont, in the handwriting of Jessie Benton Fremont 



Libraries and Archives, as Designated 

BY THE National Union Catalog 

OF THE Library of Congress 

C California State Library, Sacramento 

CLSM Southwest Museum, Los Angeles 

CSmH Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino 

CoU University of Colorado, Boulder 

CU-B Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 

DLC Library of Congress 

GHi Georgia Historical Society, Savannah 

lU University of Illinois, Urbana 

KyLoF Filson Club Library, Louisville, Ky. 

KyU University of Kentucky, Lexington 

MeHi Maine Historical Society, Portland 

MnHi Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul 

MH-G Harvard University, Gray Herbarium Library, Cambridge, 


MoSB Missouri Botanical Garden Library, St. Louis 

MoSHi Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis 

NcU University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 

NHi New York Historical Society Library, New York 

NjP Princeton University Library, Princeton, N.J. 

NN New York Public Library, New York 

NNNBG New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Park, New York 

PHi Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 

PPAmP American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 

Vi Virginia State Library, Richmond 

National Archives Record Groups 

DNA-45 Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records 

and Library 


DNA-49 Records of the General Land Office 

DNA-75 Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs 

DNA-77 Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers 

DNA-94 Records of the Adjutant General's Office 

DNA-107 Records of the Office of the Secretary of War 
DNA-156 Records of the Chief of Ordnance, War Department 
DNA-217 Records of the United States General Accounting Office 

(T-135 denotes a collection of microfilm documents in this 

Record Group.) 

Other Symbols and Editorial Aids 

AD Autograph document 

ADS Autograph document, signed 

ADS-JBF Autograph document, Fremont's name signed by Jessie 

AL Autograph letter 

ALS Autograph letter, signed 

ALS-JBF Autograph letter, Fremont's name signed by Jessie 

D Document 

DS Document, signed 

DS-JBF Document, Fremont's name signed by Jessie 

JBF Jessie Benton Fremont 

JCF John Charles Fremont 

Lbk Letterbook copy 

LR Letter received 

LS Letter sent 

RC Receiver's copy 

RG Record Group 

SO Sender's copy 

[ ] Word or phrase supplied or corrected. Editorial remarks 

within text are italicized and enclosed in square brackets. 

[?] Conjectural reading, or conjectural identification of an ad- 


[. . .] A word or two missing or illegible. Longer omissions are 

specified in footnotes. 

< > Word or phrase deleted from manuscript, usually by sender. 

The words are set in italics. 

.... Unrelated matter deleted by the editor. The symbol stands 

alone, centered on a separate line. 


Early Years 

and the 1842 Expedition 

to South Pass 

1. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogrl Engrs 
Washington April 16th 1838. 

I am authorized by the Hon. Secretary of War to inform you that 
you will be employed as a Civil Engineer under the law of 30th 
April 1824, and that you will be and are hereby assigned as an Assis- 
tant to J. N. Nicol[l]et, Esqre.^ 

Mr. Nicol[l]et is now on his way to St. Louis, Missouri. You will re- 
pair to that place without delay and report to him for orders. With 
the view of relieving him in his important duties from all unneces- 
sary details, you will act as disbursing agent to the expedition, but 
you will make only such expenditures as he shall authorize. For this 
purpose a requisition for One Thousand dollars will be this day 
made in your favour. Additional funds will be supplied on your 
estimates and will be sent to such places as you shall indicate. 

Enclosed is a copy of the regulations on the subject of accounts, 
and you will also receive herewith sets of blank vouchers and forms. 

Your compensation will be four dollars per day, to commence 
this day, with an additional allowance of ten cents per mile for your 
travelling expenses. Respectfully, 

J. J. Abert. Lt.Cl. Tl. Eng. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 2:512). John James Abert (1788-1863) had attended 
West Point, practiced law, made geodetic and topographic surveys in the 
eastern U.S., and was now chief of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers. 
Serving on this assignm.ent from 1834 to 1861, he was to oversee most of the 
extensive surveys of the West during this period. 

1. Joseph Nicolas Nicollet (1786-1843), French astronomer and geographer, 
had come to the U.S. from Paris in 1832 for the purpose of "making a scien- 
tific tour and with the view of contributing to the progressive increase of 
knowledge in the physical geography of North America" (nicollet, 3). He 
soon had established a reputation as a highly skilled and original scientist, en- 
joying the respect of such men as Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, director of the 
new U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. By 1835 he had become interested in 
making the first accurate survey of the Mississippi River. He traveled widely 
— to New Orleans, St. Louis, and other cities of the Mississippi Valley — sur- 
veying and establishing stations to aid in the determination of altitudes. In 
1836, he visited the headwaters of the Mississippi — the region around Lake 
Itasca in Minnesota — and did some preliminary mapping which was to cul- 
minate later in his important map, "Hydrographic Basin of the Upper 
Mississippi River." 

Thus far, he had financed all his own work. Now, through the influence of 
Secretary of War Poinsett, the Bureau of Topographical Engineers was to pay 
for Nicollet's further expeditions and the preparation of the map. Nicollet 
documents in this volume are selected only to show the role of JCF in the 
expeditions of 1838 and 1839, and can do little to depict the scope of Nicol- 
let's work. His map, but not his historic Report Intended to Illustrate a 
Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River, is repro- 
duced in this volume. He deserves his own biographer, or an editor who will 
annotate the Report and accompanying map as a contribution to the history of 
science in the U.S. For a paper summarizing his life and work, see "Joseph 
N. Nicollet, Geographer," by Martha Coleman Bray, in j. f. mc dermott [1]. 

2. Excerpt from the Memoirs 


The Cherokee survey was over. I remained at home only just long 
enough to enjoy the pleasure of the return to it, and to rehabituate 
myself to old scenes. While I w^as trying to devise and settle upon 
some plan for the future, my unforgetful friend, Mr. Poinsett, had 
also been thinking for me. He was now Secretary of War, and, at 
his request, I was appointed by President [Martin] Van Buren a 
second lieutenant^ in the United States Topographical Corps, and 
ordered to Washington. Washington was greatly different then 
from the beautiful capital of to-day. Instead of many broad, well- 
paved, and leafy avenues, Pennsylvania Avenue about represented 
the town. There were not the usual resources of public amusement. 
It was a lonesome place for a young man knowing but one person 
in the city, and there was no such attractive spot as the Battery by 

the sea at Charleston, where a stranger could go and feel the free- 
dom of both eye and thought. 

Shut in to narrow limits, the mind is driven in upon itself and 
loses its elasticity; but the breast expands when, upon some hill-top, 
the eye ranges over a broad expanse of country, or in face of the 
ocean. We do not value enough the effect of space for the eye; it 
reacts on the mind, which unconsciously expands to larger limits 
and freer range of thought. So I was low in my mind and lonesome 
until I learned, with great relief, that I was to go upon a distant survey 
into the West. But that first impression of flattened lonesomeness 
which Washington had given me has remained with me to this day. 

About this time, a distinguished French savant had returned from 
a geographical exploration of the country about the sources of the 
Mississippi, the position of which he first established. That region 
and its capabilities were then but little known, and the results of his 
journey were of so interesting a nature that they had attracted public 
notice and comment. Through Mr. Poinsett, Mr. Nicollet was in- 
vited to come to Washington, with the object of engaging him to 
make a complete examination of the great prairie region between 
the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, as far north as the British line, 
and to embody the whole of his labors in a map and general report 
for public use. 

Mr. Nicollet had left France, intending to spend five years in geo- 
graphical researches in this country. His mind had been drawn to 
the early discoveries of his countrymen, some of which were being 
obliterated and others obscured in the lapse of time. He anticipated 
great pleasure in renewing the memory of these journeys, and in 
rescuing them all from the obscurity into which they had fallen, A 
member of the French Academy of Sciences, he was a distinguished 
man in the circles to which Arago and other savants of equal rank 
belonged." Not only had he been trained in science, but he was 
habitually schooled to the social observances which make daily inter- 
course attractive, and become invaluable where hardships are to be 
mutually borne and difficulties overcome and hazards met. His 
mind was of the higher order. A musician as well as a mathema- 
tician, it was harmonious and complete. 

The Government now arranged with him to extend his surveys 
south and west of the country which he had already explored. Upon 
this survey I was ordered to accompany him as his assistant. 

It was a great pleasure to me to be assigned to this duty. By this 
time I had gone through some world-schoohng and was able to 
take a sober view of the realities of life. I had learned to appreciate 
fully the rare value of the friendly aid which had opened up for me 
such congenial employment, and I resolved that, if it were in me to 
do so, I would prove myself worthy of it. The years of healthy exer- 
cise which I had spent in open air had hardened my body, and the 
work I had been engaged in was kindred to that which I was now 
to have. Field work in a strange region, in association with a man so 
distinguished, was truly an unexpected good fortune, and I went 
off from Washington full of agreeable anticipation. 

At St. Louis I joined Mr. Nicollet.^ This was the last large city 
on the western border, and the fitting-out place for expeditions over 
the uninhabited country. The small towns along the western bank 
of the Missouri made for two or three hundred miles a sort of fringe 
to the prairies. At St. Louis I met for the first time General Robert 
E. Lee, then a captain in the United States Engineer Corps, charged 
with improvements of the Mississippi River."* He was already an 
interesting man. His agreeable, friendly manner to me as a younger 
officer when I was introduced to him, left a more enduring impres- 
sion than usually goes with casual introductions. 

In St. Louis Mr. Nicollet had a pleasant circle of friends among 
the old French residents. They were proud of him as a distinguished 
countryman, and were gratified with his employment by the Amer- 
ican Government, which in this way recognized his distinction and 
capacity. His intention, in the prosecution of his larger work to re- 
vive the credit due to early French discoverers, was pleasing to their 
national pride. 

His acquaintances he made mine, and I had the pleasure and ad- 
vantage to share in the amiable intercourse and profuse hospitality 
which in those days characterized the society of the place. He was 
a Catholic, and his distinction, together with his refined character, 
made him always a welcome guest with his clergy. And I may say 
in the full sense of the word, that I "assisted" often at the agreeable 
suppers in the refectory. The pleasure of these grew in remembrance 
afterward, when hard and scanty fare and sometimes starvation and 
consequent bodily weakness made visions in the mind, and hunger 
made memory dwell upon them by day and dream of them by 

Such social evenings followed almost invariably the end of the 

day's preparations. These were soon now brought to a close with the 
kindly and efficient aid of the Fur Company's^ officers. Their per- 
sonal experience made them know exactly what was needed on the 
proposed voyage, and both stores and men were selected by them; 
the men out of those in their own employ. These were principally 
practised voyageurs, accustomed to the experiences and incidental 
privations of travel in the Indian country. 

The aid given by the house of Chouteau was, to this and succeed- 
ing expeditions, an advantage which followed them throughout 
their course to their various posts among the Indian tribes. 

Our destination now was a trading post on the west bank of the 
Mississippi, at the mouth of the St. Peter's, now better known as the 
Minisotah River. This was the residence of Mr. Henry Sibley," who 
was in charge of the Fur Company's interests in the Mississippi 
Valley. He gave us a frontier welcome^ and heartily made his house 
our headquarters. This was the point of departure at which the ex- 
pedition began its work. It was on the border line of civilization. On 
the left or eastern bank of the river were villages and settlements of 
the whites, and the right was the Indian country which we were 
about to visit. Fort Snelling was on the high bluff point opposite 
between the Mini-sotah and the Mississippi. Near by was a Sioux 
Indian village, and usually its Indians were about the house grounds. 
Among these I saw the most beautiful Indian girl I have ever met, 
and it is a tribute to her singular beauty that after so many years I 
remember still the name of "Ampetu-washtoy" — "the Beautiful 

The house had much the character of a hunting-lodge. There 
were many dogs around about, and two large wolfhounds, Lion and 
Tiger, had the run of the house and their quarters in it. Mr. Sibley 
was living alone, and these fine dogs made him friendly companions, 
as he belonged to the men who love dogs and horses. For his other 
dogs he had built within the enclosure a lookout about fifteen feet 
high. Around its platform the railing was usually bordered with the 
heads of dogs resting on their paws and looking wistfully out over 
the prairie, probably reconnoitering for wolves. Of the two hounds 
Tiger had betrayed a temper of such ferocity, even against his mas- 
ter, as eventually cost him his life. Lion, though a brother, had, on 
the contrary, a companionable and affectionate disposition and al- 
most human intelligence, which in his case brought about a sepa- 
ration from his old home. 

On the marriage of Mr. Sibley, Lion so far resented the loss of his 
first place that he left the house, swam across the Mississippi, and 
went to the Fort, where he ended his days. Always he was glad to 
meet his master when he came over, keeping close by him and fol- 
lowing him to the shore, though all persuasion failed to make him 
ever recross the river to the home where he had been supplanted; 
but his life-size portrait still hangs over the fireplace of Mr. Sibley's 
library. These dogs were of the rare breed of the Irish wolfhound, 
and their story came up as an incident in a correspondence, stretch- 
ing from Scotland to Mini-sotah, on the question as to whether it 
had not become extinct; growing out of my happening to own a 
dog inheriting much of that strain. 

Cut off from the usual resources, Mr. Sibley had naturally to find 
his in the surroundings. The prominent feature of Indian life en- 
tered into his, and hunting became rather an occupation than an 
amusement. But his hunting was not the tramp of a day to some 
neighboring lake for wild fowl, or a ride on the prairie to get a stray 
shot at a wolf. These hunting expeditions involved days' journeys to 
unfrequented ranges where large game was abundant, or in winter 
to the neighborhood of one of his trading-posts, where in event of 
rough weather the stormy days could be passed in shelter. He was 
fully six feet in height, well and strongly built, and this, together 
with his skill as a hunter, gave him a hold on the admiration and 
respect of the Indians. 

In all this stir of frontier life Mr. Nicollet felt no interest and took 
no share; horse and dog were nothing to him. His manner of life 
had never brought him into their companionship, and the congenial 
work he now had in charge engrossed his attention and excited his 
imagination. His mind dwelt continually upon the geography of the 
country, the Indian names of lakes and rivers and their signification, 
and upon whatever tradition might retain of former travels by early 
French explorers. 

Some weeks had now been spent in completing that part of the 
outfit which had been referred to this place. The intervening time 
had been used to rate the chronometers and make necessary observa- 
tions of the latitude and longitude of our starting-point. 

MEMOIRS, 30-34. For a discussion of the Memoirs and how they came to be 
written, see the introduction, pp. xxxii-xxxvi. Since much of that work is a 
dupUcation of other JCF publications, such as fremont [2] and fremont [3], 


the Memoirs will not appear intact in the present series. Only extracts will be 
used, as above, where other documents do not provide continuity. 

1. Although JCF was first employed as a civilian (see Doc. No. 1), his ap- 
pointment as second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers came 
soon — on 7 July 1838— and his letter of acceptance was written 1 Jan. 1839. 
See DNA-94, 5309 ACP 1879 John C. Fremont. 

2. Nicollet was not a member of the French Academy of Sciences, and 
Dominique Francois Arago (1786-1853) had helped to block his election 
(arago, 194). Arago was an astronomer who eventually became secretary of 
the academy. 

3. In a letter of 17 May 1838, registered in the bureau but not found, JCF 
reported his arrival in St. Louis. He was warmly welcomed by Nicollet, who 
had been worrying lest he not arrive in time to serve the expedition as dis- 
bursing officer. This apprehension had prompted Nicollet to seek the advice 
of Capt. Ethan Allen Hitchcock on the keeping of records (Hitchcock to 
Nicollet, 15 May 1838, DLC— Nicollet Papers). 

4. Superintending the improvement of St. Louis harbor, and of the Missouri 
and Upper Mississippi rivers, was the first important independent Army 
assignment of Robert E. Lee (1807-70). He was particularly concerned with 
such obstructions to navigation as the rapids near the mouth of the Des 
Moines, and near Rock Island, 111. 

5. Because the Chouteau enterprises will appear frequendy in this and en- 
suing volumes, a brief outline of their various forms seems desirable. The 
public called it the American Fur Company, though legally speaking the 
business was known after 1838 as P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company, sunder 
nicely avoids confusion by calling it Chouteau's American Fur Company. 

In 1826, an alliance had been formed between John Jacob Astor's great 
American Fur Company, and Bernard Pratte and Company, of St. Louis, un- 
der which the management of the affairs of the Western Department of the 
American Fur Company were placed in Pratte's hands. Upon Astor's retire- 
ment in 1834, the Western Department was purchased by the St. Louis house 
—which now called itself Pratte, Chouteau and Company. The Northern 
Department, retaining the name of the American Fur Company, was sold to 
a company of which merchant and fur trader Ramsay Crooks was the princi- 
pal partner. 

In St. Louis in 1838, Pratte dropped from active participation in the com- 
pany, and the name, in becoming P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company, merely 
reflected the power and the business and financial acumen of the leading 
shareholder, Pierre Chouteau, Jr. (1789-1865). In 1843, Crooks relinquished 
the Minnesota trade and Chouteau picked it up. In this manner the company 
built a trading area which came to extend over an immense territory, em- 
bracing the whole country watered by the Upper Mississippi and Missouri 
rivers, as well as the tributaries of the latter (chittenden, 1:322, 364, 366; 
SUNDER, 3-17). 

6. Henry Hastings Sibley (1811-91) was associated with Ramsay Crooks 
in the Northern Department of the American Fur Company, and would later 
become a partner with Chouteau. He was to have a long and notable career 
in business and politics, becoming Minnesota's first territorial delegate and 
state governor (sibley [2] and jorstad). 

7. Indian agent Lawrence Taliaferro noted in his journal that the steamer 
Burlington arrived at Fort Snelling 25 May 1838 with the Nicollet party 

3. Fremont to Mrs. Ann B. Hale 

St. Peters upper Mississip 
June 6th '38 

We shall leave this place, Dear Mother, on Saturday morning, on 
an expedition up the river St. Peters & shall not return here under 3 
months. During that period you will receive no news from me as 
there is no post communication whatever, after leaving this place. 
You must however answer this and write also from time to time as 
there is a possibility of our returning sooner & at all events I shall be 
glad to find letters here when we do return. I have requested the 
Post Master of St. Louis to forward to Charleston any letters wh. 
may reach his office to my address. I do this in order that you may 
receive Capt. [William G.] Williams letter of information relative to 
the deposit [in] the Bank of the Metropolis at Washington. I shall 
write to him (the Captain) to-day a request that he will [. . .] the 
advice to my address in Charleston so that you will be sure to receive 
the necessary information. Enclosed I send you my signature to a 
blank & I suppose you will take Mr. McCrady's^ advice respecting the 
manner of obtaining the deposit. I had a letter recently from the 
gentleman who is to deposit with Capt. Williams the amt. of $60.00. 
The other amt. of $146.14, I presume the Capt. has already depos- 
ited. Write particularly to me on this subject. In writing to me the 
best plan will be to put simply my name on the letter without direc- 
tion & enclose it or them in an envelope to Mr. Poinsett with a re- 
quest that he will forward them. Get Mr. McCrady to do this for 
you. This method was recommended to Mr. Nicollet by the Depart- 
ment as the proper method for letters to reach us. I like Mr. Nicollet 
very much though he is inclined to spare neither himself nor us as 
regards labor, he yet takes every means to make us comfortable. He 
is a real Frenchman in this & you know exacdy what they are. 
He has provided a nice little store of Coffee, Chocolate, Tea, pre- 
pared Soup &c in addition to the more substantial articles of food. 
He has got a store of medicine too & makes me take some pills occa- 
sionally. As far as regards Science I am improving under him daily 
& my health under the influence of this delicious climate has become 
excellent. In addition to myself Mr. N. has with him on his own ac- 
count a young gentleman of N.Y. whose name is Flandin & a Ger- 
man Botanist, a Mr. Geyer,^ both very amiable & agreeable. We 


journey up this river in a large boat manned with 9 men. As soon as 
we reach the point at which we leave the river, we put ourselves, 
provisions, instruments, tents &c into wagons & with our company 
of 13 in all, take to the prairies. I anticipate an interesting & delight- 
ful expedition. In the mean time I trust you are enjoying good 
health & will make yourself happy until we meet again. Is Frank^ 
with you ? If he is make him & his wife both put something in your 
letter to me. I wd. like them to write separate letters, but I don't like 
to send too large a package to Mr. P. Give my love to all our friends 
but particularly to Lane. Tell her if [she] sees or communicates 
with Mr. Poinsett to tell him not to forget to put me in the Topi. 
Corps. I must stop now & leave room for blanks. 

Yr. Affectionate Son — Ch. 

Copy, reproduced from a typescript in MnHi; original not available. En- 
dorsed, "Fort Snelling June 9 [?]"; addressed, "Mrs. Ann B. Hale Care of 
Edwd. McCrady Esqr. Charleston S. Carolina." JCF's mother had remarried, 
but no information concerning her third husband or the date of the marriage 
has come to hand. In 1844, Jessie Benton Fremont refers to her as a widow- 
all alone except for her son. Certainly no husband was present at her burial 
on 20 Sept. 1847, and JCF took the body to Charleston for interment. See 
St. Thaddeus' Church [Aiken, S.C], church record book for 1847, p. 379, 
and the diary or journal of the Rev. John Hamilton Cornish, Southern His- 
torical Collection, NcU. 

1. Though Edward McCrady (1802-92) was some eleven years older than 
the explorer, JCF claimed him as a friend and named a stream in California 
and Oregon after him (memoirs, 483). McCrady was appointed U.S. district 
attorney for the Charleston area in 1839, at the request of Joel R. Poinsett. In 
1856, politics and the publication of an old private letter brought a rift in the 
friendship (see Jessie's manuscript, "Great Events during the Life of Major 
General John C. Fremont," CU-B). 

2. J. Eugene Flandin was a youth of nineteen, the son of New York mer- 
chant Pierre Flandin. After serving with Nicollet on this expedition he re- 
turned to New York to visit his family with the idea of going out again with 
Nicollet in 1839, but he only went as far as St. Louis (see Doc. No. 20). 
However, his association with Fremont lasted for several years; the New York 
Times, 19 Feb. 1852, reported that he had engineered the sale of JCF's Mari- 
posa estate to Thomas Denny Sargent for a million dollars. Charles A. Geyer 
(1809-53) had come from Dresden in 1834 to explore the plant life of North 
America. He had met Nicollet at St. Louis after an expedition up the Mis- 
souri, and was asked to accompany him on both the 1838 and 1839 ventures. 
Although he lost his principal collection of plants, Nicollet's Report does con- 
tain Geyer's list of plants as edited by botanist John Torrey. See also nute, 

DRURY [1], and MC KELVEY. 

3. Frank is JCF's younger brother. He left home at fifteen to pursue a 
career on the stage, but several years later an injury received during a riot 
in Buffalo, N.Y., forced him to return to his mother in Charleston. He died 


in 1840 or 1841, before the birth of his daughter Nina, who became JCF's 
ward (bigelow, 29; memoirs, 56; e. b. fremont, 62, 106, 182). The girl 
named Lane, mentioned a few lines later, is unidentified. 

4. Fremont to Joel R. Poinsett 

St. Peters, Upper Mississippi 
8 June 1838 
Dear Sir 

Our preparations are at last entirely completed & tomorrow we 
follow the steps of the Pilgrim of Science into the Prairie Wilder- 
ness. I can scarcely tell you how delighted I am in having been 
placed under him in this Expedition. Every day — almost every hour 
I feel myself sensibly advancing in professional knowledge & the 
confused ideas of Science & Philosophy wh my mind has been oc- 
cupied are momently arranging themselves into order & clearness. 
I admire Mr. Nicollet very much, not only for his extraordinary & 
highly cultivated capacity, but for his delightful manner — his deli- 
cacy & his almost extravagant enthusiasm in the object of his present 
enterprise wh he seems to think the sole object of his existence. The 
unsetded & excited state of the Indians has been the cause of great 
difficulty in procuring men: even old voyageurs & hunters being at 
this time afraid to venture among them. Mr. Nicollet's good man- 
agement however & his intimate acquaintance with the character of 
the people have overcome all difficulties & I have found new occasion 
to admire him for the rigid economy at which these arrangements 
have been made. Every instant of our time has however been occupied 
in astronomical & Geological observations — so closely indeed that we 
have scarcely been able to avail ourselves of the kind hospitality & 
attentions of the Garrison at Fort Snelling & at this moment I write 
in the haste of a stolen interval. Mr. Nicollet I am aware has made 
you acquainted with all details connected with the expedition & I can 
add, I presume, nothing to what Mr. Taliaferro^ & others have com- 
municated to you relative to the Indians. Our party, tho' small, is 
well armed, at least sufficiently so to secure us in the event of an ac- 
cidental rencontre & Mr. Nicollet's knowledge of the Indians justi- 
fies us in believing that we shall meet with no serious difficulty. 
Everything wh could facilitate our business & all manner of kind- 


nesses have been offered to us by Mr. H.H. Sibley, one of the Part- 
ners of the American N.W. Fur Comp., residing at this place." We 
are living with him & shall probably do so whenever we chance to 
be at this place in the intervals of our excursions. He has been 
obliged to withdraw several of his posts on account of the bad con- 
duct of the Indians. At Lake Travers, one of the Posts withdrawn, 
one of his clerks has been killed, another wounded & numbers of 
horses & cattle destroyed. 

I hope that your health has been by this time thoroughly restored. 
In company wh Capt. Williams I called on you when at Washing- 
ton, but you had not yet sufficiently recovered to receive visits, which 
I extremely regretted. I was anxious among other things to tell you 
of the extreme solicitude wh your illness had excited throughout the 
South— it must have been extremely gratifying to you. I certainly 
think that this delightful [. . .] be extremely beneficial to you. Will 
you have the kindness to present my regards to Mrs. Poinsett? I 
shall find something in this country to add to her collection & I will 
certainly allow myself the pleasure of bringing them to her on my 
return. I am, most Respectfully, Dear Sir, yr obt Servt. 

C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (PHi— Poinsett Papers). Addressed from "Fort Snelling June 19" 
to "Hon. Joel R. Poinsett. Secretary of War. Washington City D.C." 

1. Lawrence Taliaferro (1794-1871), the Indian agent at St. Peters (Fort 
Snelling), spent many years trying to keep peace between the Sioux and their 
traditional enemies, the Chippewas. He left the agency in 1840. 

2. It was Sibley who procured the voyageurs for Nicollet and became re- 
sponsible as agent of the American Fur Company for their reimbursement 
(see Memo, of Agreement between H. H. Sibley and certain voyageurs, 
[June 1838], MnHi, and our Doc. No. 13, voucher no. 8). 

5. Excerpt from the Memoirs 


At length we set out.^ As our journey was to be over level and un- 
broken country the camp material was carried in one-horse carts, 
driven by Canadian voyageurs, the men usually employed by the 
Fur Company in their business through this region. M. de Mont- 
mort," a French gentleman attached to the legation at Washington, 


and Mr. Eugene Flandin, a young gentleman belonging to a French 
family of New York, accompanied the party as friends of Mr. Nicol- 
let. These were pleasant travelling companions, and both looked up 
to Mr. Nicollet with affectionate deference and admiration. No 
botanist had been allowed to Mr. Nicollet by the Government, 
but he had for himself employed Mr. Charles Geyer, a botanist 
recently from Germany, of unusual practical knowledge in his pro- 
fession and of companionable disposition. 

The proposed surveys of this northwestern region naturally di- 
vided themselves into two: the present one, at this point connecting 
with Mr. Nicollet's surveys of the upper Mississippi, was to extend 
westward to the waters of the Missouri Valley; the other, intended 
for the operations of the succeeding year, was to include the valley 
of the Missouri River, and the northwestern prairies as far as to the 
British line. 

Our route lay up the Mini-sotah for about a hundred and fifteen 
miles, to a trading-post at the lower end of the Traverse des Sioux; 
the prairie and river valley being all beautiful and fertile country. 
We travelled along the southern side of the river, passing on the way 
several Indian camps, and establishing at night the course of the 
river by astronomical observations. The Traverse des Sioux is a cross- 
ing-place about thirty miles long, where the river makes a large rec- 
tangular bend, coming down from the northwest and turning 
abruptly to the northeast; the streams from the southeast, the south, 
and southwest flowing into a low line of depression to where they 
gather into a knot at the head of this bend, and into its lowest part 
as into a bowl. In this great elbow of the river is the Marah-tanka or 
Big Swan Lake, the summer resort of the Sissiton Sioux. Our way 
over the crossing lay between the lake and the river. At the end of 
the Traverse we returned to the right shore at the mouth of the 
Waraju or Cottonwood River, and encamped near the principal vil- 
lage of the Sissitons. Their lodges were pitched in a beautiful situa- 
tion, under large trees. It needs only the slightest incident to throw 
an Indian village into a sudden excitement which is startling to a 
stranger. We are occupied quietly among the Indians, Mr. Nicollet, 
as usual, surrounded by them, with the aid of the interpreter getting 
them to lay out the form of the lake and the course of the streams 
entering the river near by, and, after repeated pronunciations, enter- 
ing their names in his note-book ; Geyer, followed by some Indians, 


curiously watching him while digging up plants; and I, more nu- 
merously attended, pouring out the quicksilver for the artificial 
horizon, each in his way busy at work; when suddenly everything 
started into motion, the Indians running tumultuously to a little rise 
which commanded a view of the prairie, all clamor and excitement. 
The commotion was caused by the appearance of two or three elk 
on the prairie horizon. Those of us who were strangers, and igno- 
rant of their usages, fancied there must be at least a war-party in 

From this point we travelled up the Waraju River and passed a 
few days in mapping the country around the Pelican Lakes, and 
among the lower spurs of the Coteau des Frames, a plateau which 
separates the waters of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. This is 
the single elevation separating the prairies of the two rivers. Ap- 
proaching it, the blue line which it presents, marked by wooded 
ravines in contrast with the green prairie which sweeps to its feet, 
suggested to the voyageurs the name they gave it, of the Prairie 
Coast. At this elevation, about fifteen hundred feet above the sea, the 
prairie air was invigorating, the country studded with frequent lakes 
was beautiful, and the repose of a few days was refreshing to men 
and animals after the warmer and moister air of the lower valley. 
Throughout this region, the rivers and lakes, and other noticeable 
features of the country, bear French and Indian names, Sioux or 
Chippewa, and sometimes Shayan [Cheyenne]. Sometimes they 
perpetuate the memory of an early French discoverer, or rest upon 
some distinguishing local character of stream or lake; and some- 
times they record a simple incident of chase or war which in their 
limited history were events. 

We now headed for our main object in this direction, the Red 
Pipe Stone Quarry, which was to be the limit of our western travel ; 
from there we were to turn directly north. All this country had been 
a battle-ground between the Sioux and Sacs and Foxes. Crossing the 
high plains over which our journey now lay, we became aware that 
we were followed by a party of Indians. Guard at night was neces- 
sary. But it was no light thing, after a day's work of sketching the 
country, to stand guard the night through, as it now fell to me 
among others to do. When we would make the noon halt I 
promptly took my share of it under the shade of a cart in deep sleep, 
which the fragrant breeze of the prairie made delightful. 

Our exaggerated precautions proved useless, as the suspected hos- 
tile party were only friendly Sioux who, knowing nothing about us, 
were on their side cautiously watching us. 

The Indians have a belief that the Spirit of the Red Pipe Stone 
speaks in thunder and lightning whenever a visit is made to the 
Quarry. With a singular coincidence such a storm broke upon us as 
we reached it, and the confirmation of the legend was pleasing to 
young Renville^ and the Sioux who had accompanied us. 

As we came into the valley the storm broke away in a glow of 
sunshine on the line of red bluff which extended for about three 
miles. The day after our arrival the party of Indians we had been 
watching came in. We spent three friendly days together; they were 
after the red pipe stone, and we helped them, by using gunpowder, 
to uncover the rock. 

It was in itself a lovely place, made interesting by the mysterious 
character given to it by Indian tradition, and because of the fact that 
the existence of such a rock is not known anywhere else. It is on the 
land of the Sissiton Sioux, but the other Indians make to it annual 
pilgrimages, as it is from this they make their images and pipes. 
This famous stone, where we saw it, was in a layer about a foot and 
a half thick, overlaid by some twenty-six feet of red-colored indu- 
rated sand-rock; the color diminishing in intensity from the base to 
the summit. The water in the little valley had led the buffalo 
through it in their yearly migration from north to south, and the 
tradition is that their trail wore away the surface and uncovered the 

There was a detached pedestal standing out a few feet away from 
the bluff, and about twenty-five feet high. It was quite a feat to 
spring to this from the bluff, as the top was barely a foot square and 
uneven, and it required a sure foot not to go further. This was a 
famous place of the country, and nearly all of us, as is the custom in 
famous places the world over, carved our names in the stone. It 
speaks for the enduring quality of this rock that the names remain 
distinct to this day. 

When the position had been established and other objects of the 
visit accomplished, we took up the northern line of march for the 
Lac qui park, the trading-post and residence of the Renville family. 

On our way we passed through and mapped the charming lake 
country of the Coteau des Prairies. 

The head of the Renville family,^ a French Canadian, was a 


border chief. Between him and the British Hne was an unoccupied 
region of some seven hundred miles. Over all the Indian tribes 
which ranged these plains he had a controlling influence; they 
obeyed himself and his son, who was a firm-looking man of decided 
character. Their good will was a passport over this country. 

The hospitable reception which is the rule of the country met us 
here. I take pleasure in emphasizing and dwelling on this, because 
it is apart from the hospitality of civilized life. There is lively satis- 
faction on both sides. The advent of strangers in an isolated place 
brings novelty and excitement, and to the stranger arriving, there is 
great enjoyment in the change from privations and watchful unrest, 
to the quiet safety and profusion of plenty in such a frontier home. 
Our stay here was made very agreeable. We had abundance of milk 
and fresh meat and vegetables, all seasoned with a traveller's appetite 
and a hearty welcome. 

To gratify us a game of Lacrosse was played with spirit and skill 
by the Indians. Among the players was a young half-breed of un- 
usual height, who was incomparably the swiftest runner among 
them. He was a relation of the Renvilles and seemed to have some 
recognized family authority, for during the play he would seize an 
Indian by his long hair and hurl him backward to the ground to 
make room for himself, the other taking it as matter of course. 

Some time was spent here in visiting the various lakes near by, 
fixing their position and gathering information concerning the char- 
acter of the country and its Indians. This over, and the limit of the 
present journey attained, we turned our faces eastward and started 
back to the mouth of the St. Peter's. 

While Mr. Nicollet was occupied in making a survey of the 
Lesueur River, and identifying localities and verifying accounts of 
preceding travellers, I was sent to make an examination of the Man- 
kato or Blue Earth River, which bore upon the subjects he had in 
view. The eastern division of the expedition now closed with our 
return to Mr. Sibley's. 

Among the episodes which gave a livelier coloring to the instruc- 
tive part of this campaign, was a hunting expedition on which I 
went with Mr. Sibley.'"^ With him also went M. Faribault,*'' a favorite 
companion of his on such occasions. It was a royal hunt. He took 
with him the whole of Red Dog's village — men, women, and chil- 
dren. The hunting-ground was a number of days' journey to the 
south, in loway, where game was abundant; many deer and some 


elk. It was in November, when the does are in their best condition. 
The country was well timbered and watered, stretches of prairie in- 
terspersed with clumps and lines of woods. 

Early in the morning the chief would indicate the camping- 
ground for the night, and the men sally out for the hunt. The 
women, with the camp equipage, would then make direct for the 
spot pointed out, ordinarily some grove about nine miles distant. 
Toward nightfall the hunters came in with their game. 

The day's tramp gave a lively interest to the principal feature 
which the camp presented; along the woods bright fires, where fat 
venison was roasting on sticks before them, or stewing with corn or 
wild rice in pots hanging from tripods; squaws busy over the cook- 
ing and children rolling about over the ground. No sleep is better 
or more restoring than follows such a dinner, earned by such a day. 

On the march one day, a squaw dropped behind, but came into 
camp a little later than the others, bringing a child a few hours old. 
By circumstance of birth he should have become a mighty hunter, 
but long before he reached man's age he had lost birthright, he and 
his tribe, and I doubt if he got even the mess of pottage for which 
Esau bartered his. During the hunt we had the experience of a 
prairie fire. We were on a detached excursion, Sibley, Faribault and 
I. After midnight we were aroused from a sound sleep by the crack- 
ling noise, and springing to our feet, found ourselves surrounded, 
without a minute to lose. Gathering in our animals, we set fire to 
the grass near our tent, transferring quickly animals and baggage to 
the cleared ground. The fire swept past, and in a few seconds struck 
a grove of aspens near by and leaped up the trees, making a wall of 
flame that sent a red glow into the sky brighter even than the waves 
of fire that rolled over the prairie. We lost nothing, only tent and 
belongings a little blackened with the smouldering grass; but the 
harm was to the woods and the game. 

The work of the year and in this quarter was now finished, and 
we returned to St. Louis, to prepare for the survey of the more west- 
ern division in the succeeding year. 

MEMOIRS, 34-38. 

1. The route which JCF now describes took the expedition southwest from 
Fort Snelling, at present Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., along the Minne- 
sota River to the vicinity of Mankato, then westward to the Cottonwood River 
near New Ulm. Ascending the Cottonwood and its tributaries, the party 
reached the Lake Shetek complex in Murray County — and one of the smaller 


lakes in the group is now called Lake Fremont. After visiting the pipestone 
quarry at Pipestone, Minn., the expedition headed north toward Lac qui Parle. 
JCF says the party traveled due north over the high plains, but the map is- 
sued with Nicollet's Report shows the group swinging to the west as far as 
the Big Sioux River, then approaching Lac qui Parle from the west. From this 
point the route followed the Minnesota back down to Fort Snelling, except 
for a couple of diversions which JCF mentions. 

2. The Count de Montmort was attached to the French legation in Wash- 
ington until 1841. It is clear that he traveled with Nicollet during a part 
of this expedition, but he returned to Washington sometime in 1838. He did 
not go out again in the spring of 1839 (almanac, 1840, 1841). Besides Flan- 
din, there appears to have been still another French adventurer with the ex- 
pedition. According to the vouchers for the 1838 expedition, a captain named 
Belligny traveled with the party for about forty days — paying his own way. It 
is not certain where Belligny joined Nicollet. In a letter of 2 July 1838, Fred- 
erick Gebhardt and Co. of New York introduced Gaspard de Belligny to 
Ramsay Crooks, saying he was from Lyons and wished to tour the U.S. and 
see the Indians, and asked for letters to Detroit and St. Louis for him. 
(amer. fur CO., 1: item 4721). Another letter, written 20 Aug. 1838 by 
Gabriel Franchere (MnHi— Sibley Papers) calls Belligny "a French gende- 
man who travels the country for his amusement and information." But by the 
time these letters were written the work of the expedition was well under 
way. There is no documentation for JCF's statement (p. 53) that Belligny 
was with the 1839 expedition. 

3. Joseph Renville, Jr., son of Joseph Renville of Lac qui Parle, served as 
guide and interpreter to Nicollet. For his services and the use of Renville's 
wagons and horses he was given a horse and a $40.00 double-barreled gun 
(see voucher no. 14, our p. 40, and ackermann). 

4. Joseph Renville (1779-1846) had been in the Sioux country most of his 
life (his mother was a Sioux) and had served as an interpreter in 1805-6 when 
Zebulon Pike explored the Upper Mississippi. After serving as a British army 
captain in the War of 1812, he entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, then helped to organize the Columbia Fur Company. When his com- 
pany was sold he moved to Lac qui Parle, built a trading post, and spent the 
rest of his life there (ackermann; chittenden, 1:323-37). 

5. The hunting expedition described here may not have occurred until 1839. 
Taliaferro saw JCF with the Nicollet party 28 Oct. 1838 bound for St. Louis, 
according to his journal (MnHi). On the other hand, Nicollet had to wait for 
JCF at Prairie du Chien the following autumn when, presumably, he was 
hunting with Sibley. Sibley himself says that he accompanied JCF to Prairie 
du Chien after the hunt — but he erroneously dates it 1840 (sibley [3]). Al- 
though he does not mention Fremont in the letter he wrote to his father from 
Prairie du Chien on 5 Nov. 1839, Sibley does say he had just arrived in that 
river town from having conducted "a party of Sioux down to the Red Cedar 
River (a tributary of the Lower Iowa) on the west of the Mississippi on a 
hunting excursion" of one month (MnHi — Sibley Papers). He had come to 
Prairie du Chien to meet Ramsay Crooks, who incidentally arrived back in St. 
Louis in time to go east with Nicollet. 

6. Alexander Faribault (1806-82) was long a prominent factor for the 
American Fur Company, established several trading posts in the Cannon 
River area, and founded the city of Faribault, Minn. He became a representa- 
tive in the territorial legislature in 1851 (sibley [2]; minn. coll., vol. 14). 


6. Fremont to Henry H. Sibley 

Lac qui Parle, Sioux Country 

16 July 38 
Dear Sir 

I avail myself of the opportunity offered by Mr. Browns departure 
this afternoon to acquaint you with the success of the expedition 
thus far & at the same time so express my regret that in our contem- 
plated excursion to the Devil's Lake we cannot hope to enjoy the 
society of yourself, Capt. Scott, Marryatt &c. The chief of the Yanc- 
tons who has been waiting for us here & who accompanies us in a 
visit to Lac Travers & the Riviere a Jaques says that unless we are 
fond of walking it will not be wise to go to Lac du Diable at present. 
The Indians from the Missouri 460 Lodge of Tetons & 300 of the 
Yanctons are there at present — amounting as we are told to probably 
4000 warriors, all with the old hate of the Americans & the small- 
pox. They will winter there so that it is not probable that Marryatt 
will give us next summer anything in [James Fenimore] Cooper's 
line, tho' I am sure that he has told you something of such a design. 
I would give much to know if you are determined to carry your plan 
into execution & go there in September. Mr. Nicollet they tell us 
cannot with any sort of prudence go now, tho' as we shall shortly 
be within 8 days journey of the Lake I should not be surprised if his 
anxiety to visit that section of the country induced him to attempt it. 
We will be somewhat emboldened too by the favorable circum- 
stances which have hitherto attended us. Until yesterday we had not 
had two hours rain in all our journey skies without a cloud the nights 
delightfully cool & the thermometer sometimes as low as 45° + not 
an evening lost to astronomical observations. The scenery too was oc- 
casionally surpassingly beautiful — & I never tho' something of a 
Traveller had my love of the beautiful in nature more completely 
gratified than when we reached the Pelican group of Lakes. It is al- 
together of the character which the French term gracieux & I believe 
we have nothing so in our language to express it more justly — we 
afterwards met with Lake scenery more beautiful perhaps but with 
me none excited such emotions as the first. We have visited the pipe 
Quarry & I should have been satisfied if we had made the journey 
merely for the purpose of seeing it. I could compare it to nothing 
perhaps more justly than to the Ruins of some Porphyritic city 


standing on the verge of a desolate plain which had once been cov- 
ered w^ith luxuriant farms & splendid villas — we passed the 5 lodges 
without difficulty & are now quiet here but busily at work for a day 
or two. Mr. Nicollet begged me in writing for myself to write for 
him also, with his regards he sends you a Box of Sardines & part of 
a saucisson — the sardines I can assure you are really excellent & you 
must enjoy them. Will you have the kindness to present my regards 
to the Officers of the Garrison particularly to Major Plympton's & 
Lieut. Smith's families. Remember me if you please to the gentle- 
men of your family. We shall be with you about the 15th of next 
month. With much respect, Yours truly, 

C. Fremont 

P.S. We find it hard that you sent us not even a word by Mr. Brown 
— not one word — all the party join in presenting their regards to you 
— you were too much occupied with [. . .] to think of us — excuse 
haste, etc. 

ALS, RC (MnHi — Sibley Papers). Addressed to Sibley at St. Peters. Per- 
sons mentioned in this letter include Joseph Renshaw Brown (1805-70), a 
trader with the Sioux who had come to Minnesota as a boy with the troops 
that built Fort Snelling; Capt. Martin Scott (1788-1847), who was stationed 
at Fort Snelling from about 1821 to 1840 (williams [2]); Capt. Frederick 
Marryat (1792-1848), British author who stopped for a brief time with Sibley 
when he visited the U.S. in 1837-38 and gave an account of his tour in A 
Diary in America (London, 1838); Maj. Joseph Plympton (d. 1860), the 
commandant at Fort Snelling, 1837-41; and Lieut. E. Kirby Smith, stationed 
therein 1837 and 1838. 

7. Fremont to Joel R. Poinsett 

St. Peters Wisconsin Territory 
Sepr. 5th 1838— 
Dear Sir 

I hasten to give you immediately on our arrival a brief account of 
our recent campaign. We have returned without having a single tale 
of danger or suffering to relate — no one sick no accident — we have 
not even starved a little & starvation is the most common accident in 
this country. On the contrary we are here in fine health & exuberant 
spirits & in the exultation of the most complete success. I should be 


glad to relate to you some of the many interesting incidents of our 
journey, but in the narrow limits of a letter it is impossible to do 
justice to any of the events wh. which every day was crowded. It 
seemed as if it were the will of Providence that the magnificent 
country we have traversed should no longer be without an inhabi- 
tant, so highly favored by circumstances that it seemed as if an in- 
visible hand smoothed & prepared our way. Mr. Nicollet has several 
times suffered such an opinion to escape him, for mingled with his 
zeal for science & warmed by the enthusiasm characteristic of his 
countrymen, he cherishes the most exalted religious feeling. For 39 
days out of a journey of 85, we travelled on without the loss of an 
hour & meeting wh. scarcely 2 hours rain — during the bright skies 
whose heat was tempered by winds like those from the sea sweeping 
over the prairies & cloudless nights, offering us every facility for our 
numerous astronomical observations. Told before our departure that 
dangers wd. beset every step, wh. gloomy accounts of hostile tribes 
whose country we were obliged to traverse — we were every where 
received with the warmest demonstrations of welcome & hospitality. 
On our arrival in the Indian country proper, Mr. Nicollet sent a 
messenger to a formidable tribe which lay in our route, of his inten- 
tion to pass thro' their country. With our messenger returned their 
chief, a man nearly 7 ft. in height & in proportion a study for a stat- 
uary. "I heard of your arrival," said he, "& tho' wounded I could not 
rest in my Lodge, but have flown to welcome you to our country. 
You are going to visit that country & where you go our enemies 
throng. I must go with you. My first wish is to die for the whites." 
You may be sure that his proffer of friendship was warmly met, but 
we told him how impossible it was for him to travel in such a state & 
at last induced him reluctantly to abandon his intention. "But I give 
you then my Son," said he,— "he is to me the dearest thing on earth, 
but my heart will be rejoiced if he dies fighting for the whites." "I 
will answer for his life with mine," said Mr. N. & I believe that each 
present formed a silent determination to bring back that Indian or 
remain on the prairie wh him. We had a council on that evening, 
when Mr. N. explained to the indians the purpose of his coming 
among them. He was already known to them as the Great French 
Spirit. "I come, as you know, from the nation beyond the great Salt 
Lake whose chief many years ago was your Father. My Grandfather 
then came to visit the Sioux & to do them some good & the Sioux all 
treated him well. My people & yours were then brothers. My an- 


cestors returned to their own country, but they did not forget their 
brethren the Sioux & spoke often of them to their children. Their 
children did not forget the words of the old men & they are anxious 
to hear from their friends the Sioux & to know if they are happy & 
have plenty of Bufifalos. So I have come to know these things. But I 
went first to shake the hand wh your great Father at Washington, & 
he said, "Go to my children the Sioux. They live so far from me that 
I do not know what they want. Go & look at their country & count 
their lodges. Take them something to eat & do them some good, & 
tell my children that I send you to them & that when you come back 
& bring good words of them, I will make their Fires very large as 
they were long ago, & my children shall be happy." It was affecting 
to hear that chief's reply, spoken with natural eloquence & an abrupt 
energy peculiar to the savage & always startling to the listener. He 
spoke of his nation, of the earlier and happier periods of its history 
& contrasted these with its present poverty & rapid decay. "Then," 
said he, "the Buffalo covered the plains. Our enemies fled before us 
& the blaze of our Fires was seen from afar, but they have dwindled 
away until their light is almost extinguished. There is no more 
games & my people are few & our enemies press us on every side. 
We thought that we were to die when the snow comes but you come 
& bring us life. Our sky was covered with clouds & dark with storm, 
but you came & again the sun shines bright in the blue heavens & we 
are happy." Mr. N. has always labored to prevent these people from 
going to war. "I give you this powder," he wd. tell them, "to kill 
game for the support of your women & children & to pay your debts 
to the Traders, but do not dare to go to war with it — with it you 
will be successful in the chase, but your scalp will hang in your 
enemy's lodge if you carry it with you to war." He always repre- 
sented himself [to] these people as specially sent by the President to 
enquire into their condition with a view of improving it — endeavor- 
ing in every way to promote the interests of the U. States. The tact & 
judgment displayed in his intercourse wh them has been eminently 
successful, & I could not dwell too much upon his superb manage- 
ment of the expedition — not an article lost or broken throughout our 
long journey, not a horse injured or stolen, a set of the most ungov- 
ernable men in the world reduced in less than a week to perfect 
order & obedience, the whole party cheerful & contented & all con- 
ducted wh the strictest regard to economy, superintending in person 
the most trifling details of duty — giving, himself, the Reveille at 4 in 


the morning, travelling all day pencil in hand sketching & noting 
everything — physical and descriptive Geography, Geology, Meteo- 
rology, terrestrial magnetism, study of the resources of the country 
in relation to its future political condition — nothing but the most 
extraordinary devotion to the cause of science could have supported 
him under such unremitted labor — night came but brought v/h it no 
cessation of toil, our astronomical observations were frequently pro- 
tracted beyond the turn of the night & every fourth night one of the 
officers kept watch until daylight. Mr. N. taking his turn among the 
rest — "C'est bien," he wd. sometimes say with exultation, when after 
the toils were over, we stood to converse a little at our midnight 
fires, our frames exhausted & our blood fevered with the merciless 
attacks of the mosquitoes — c'est bien n'est-ce pas ? so much is done. 
No matter what happens, if we die tonight, we shall have done 
something good for science. 

After having explored the Coteaux des Prairies in length 140 miles, 
visited extensively the region of the Red Pipe Stone quarry & the 
region watered by the Blue Earth Riv. & its numerous Forks, we go 
now to take advantage of the few days that remain of the favorable 
season to explore the wild & broken region that lies immediately 
west of the Mississippi & south of the St. Peters. 

I have the pleasure to thank you for my appointment to the Topi. 
Engineers. Major Plympton informed me of it on my arrival here & 
showed me my name on the list. I do not transmit to the Depart- 
ment an acceptance form, because I have not yet received any com- 
munication on that subject — indeed we are all, expecially Mr. 
Nicollet, extremely disappointed in having received no letters from 
any quarter on our arrival after a somewhat long absence. 

We have been transacting our money affairs thro' the Am. Fur 
Co. & as we close our business with that company at St. Louis, we 
have to request that two or three thousand dollars may be trans- 
mitted to that place, which we shall probably reach in the latter days 
of October. Mr. N. told me that it is not necessary to make a formal 
requisition. I leave this letter with Mr. H. Sibley, of the Am. Fur 
Co., to be forwarded by the first steamboat. Very Respectfully Dear 
Sir, Your Obt. Servt. 

C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (PHi— Poinsett Papers). 


8. J. J. Abert to Pratte, Chouteau and Company 

Bureau of Top. Engineers 
Washington, Octr. 18th. 1838. 

Your letter of the 5th inst. has been duly received. 

By the enclosed extract from the instructions to Lieut. Freemont, 
who is with Mr. Nicollet, you will perceive that he is the disbursing 
agent of the expedition, and that all its accounts will have to be set- 
tled by him. As Mr. Nicollet was fully aware of this arrangement 
before he left St. Louis, that he did not apprize you of it could have 
been only from an oversight. Lieut. Freemonts application for funds 
will be immediately complied with. He will adjust your account if 
approved by Mr. Nicollet, but as neither of these gentlemen are 
probably fully aware of the exactness required by our accounting 
officers in the final adjustments of accounts, you will pardon me in 
suggesting the propriety of your charges being sustained by special 
statements of quantities & prices. Very respectfully, 

J. J. Abert, C.T.E. 
Lbk(DNA-77,LS, 2:627). 

9. Fragment of a Fremont Journal 

[22-26 Oct. 1838] 

Oct. 22d. 1838. This morning an Indian from M. Nicollet— to my 
great surprise he is at Sibley's — has made a voyage full of success but 
attended wh. hardship — 12 jours [. . •] par la faim et I'incendre des 
prairies — says that in 3 days at farthest he will start to join me — 
despatched Baptisier^ at 8 a.m. to Wells," ^ days journey on Lake 
Pepin, in search of Flour, Sugar, &c. Evening — this day passed as the 
others, in walking among the neighboring hills, reading &c. Snow 
still covers the high prairies. I find nothing remarkable in Geology, 
Limestone & Sandstone with some handsome conglomerates & occa- 
sionally a granite Boulder. I believe that I have forgotten to mention 
in its proper place a large granite Boulder on the shore of Lake 


Pepin when the wind compelled me to encamp during the 13th & 
14th ult. The soil being excellent, all the vegetables I have seen are 
very large & fairly flavoured, Turnips, Potatoes, carrots &c. Roque"* 
might have a beautiful & comfortable farm, he has Cows, Oxen, 
Horses, all the material — but the spirit of Indian indolence seems to 
pervade all here & provided there is enough to satisfy the wants of 
the present moment, they do not look beyond. 4 Indian Lodges en- 
camped here yesterday & they have been a little troublesome to us 
today — they began to congregate around our fire at supper time, but 
our good cook routed them, & they betook themselves to Roque's 
family fire & in a few moments more than a Dozen were assembled 
there — their kettle hanging over the fire & a close array of wild 
Ducks en appolas encircling it. 

Oct. 23d. The day has opened beautifully — a bright spring sun 
shining in a clear sky for the first time since the 10th ult. The lake 
& the river, notwithstanding its swift current, smooth as a mirror. 
Above and below this place the river freezes, but immediately in 
front of the house, never. Why ? After Breakfast walked wh. Flan- 
din on the road by wh. Baptisier was to return & ascended one of the 
mountains near the entrance of the lake & walked for a short dis- 
tance along the [three words illegible] snow on summit. Flandin 
took off his coat on reaching the summit (instead of Buttoning it) & 
lost a little work on astronomy, a present from M. Verrot* of Bait. 
Fine view here — think that the Riv. aux Boeufs is a mouth of the 
Riv. des Sauteurs — the whole intervening space from the Cote to 
latter being occupied by channels & marais — very nearly the same as 
the Riv. aux Embarras & the Riv. a I'eau Blanche. Day passed as 
usual, much pleased wh. "La Perfectibilite humaine." Towards Eve- 
ning Maxime"' returned wh. 6 fine Ducks & shortly after came Bap- 
tisier — he had purchased Flour, Coflfee, tea & sugar to the amount of 
4.50 & had lost, he said, 2.50. I was informed after his departure yes- 
terday that he never lost an opportunity to become intoxicated & he 
had enjoyed this at Wells'. Supped well & slept well. After supper 
sat up some time listening to Augustin's account of Indian feuds &c. 

Oct. 24. Mr. N. not yet arrived. Rains constantly wh. high wind 
from the north during the night but wh. the morning the rain — the 
sun broke out gloriously among the clouds, though the wind rose 
higher. It sweeps down river wh. is so ruffled as to look like a rapid 
today, & the little lake is angry & white. 1 P.M. have returned from a 
walk to the hills. The snow still lies in sheltered places — the wind is 


blowing Keenly & the sky covered wh. dark, hard clouds threaten- 
ing snow. Maxime has retd. from the chase bringing wh. him 10 
Ducks & a large & very fat Goose. I take much pleasure in listening 
to his narrations of these expeditions. The colour of the goose is 
body gray, neck & head black, the latter having a white band. About 
5 O'clock a party of Americans, 5 in number came to the house & 
requested permission to stay the night, which was cold, raw & 
windy — granted of course — displayed a full measure of that trouble- 
some curiosity & intolerable ill manners peculiar to the \several 
words cut from paper] very much annoyed by them. They were 
from the Mile or Chippeway river bound to the Prairie du Chien — 
they left us next morning after breakfast. 

Oct. 25 Thursday. M. N. not arrived. Spent the day in reading, 
mapping & walking. Maxime startfed] for the chase at daylight 
this morning & return [ed] at Breakfast time wh. 2 very fat Geese & 
2 [. . .]. The Post Boy arrived — informed us that Mr. N. had passed 
Danton's*' on the 23rd — he will certainly arrive tomorrow. 

Oct. 26. Prepared a fine breakfast in expectation of enjoying the 
society of our friends at that meal. Th[ey] did not come. After 
Breakfast walked to the summit of a mountain overlooking the lake, 
about 2 miles hence. Just as I reached the summit, saw the Barge on 
the lake at foot of hill — they were under sail & reached the house 
before me. Messrs. Geyer & Montmort looking well. Mr. N. very 
thin. Mr. Montmort escaped drowning in the morning. Mr. N's re- 
mark [. . .] alive to want of calculation. Are all men unjust? Much 
excited — walked in the cold wind for an hour or so, wh. had a cool- 
ing effect. Will the resolutions formed in that hour be adhered to? 
Returned to the house. Maxime not yet arrived — hope he will come 
in time for supper.^ 

AD (CLSM). This fragment of JCF's record of the 1838 expedition is 
found in a small notebook, the cover of which bears the initials "C. F." and 
the title, in his hand, "Cahier d'Observations Astronomique." The document 
contains astronomical data in JCF's hand. 

1. Probably Jean Baptiste Gea, who appears in the financial vouchers for 
Nov. 1838. 

2. James Wells (d. 1863) was a prominent trader when Sibley went to 
Minnesota in 1834 (siblev [3]). 

3. Probably Augustin Rocque, a trader whose house was about three miles 
below Lake Pepin — said to have been the only house in 1834 between Prairie 
du Chien and the mouth of the Minnesota River (sibley [3]). 

4. Jean Marcel Pierre Auguste Verot (1805-76), of the Sulpician order, 
taught at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore where Nicollet had stayed. He 


became vicar-apostolic of Florida in 1858 and bishop of St. Augustine in 1870. 

5. Maxime Maxwell, listed in the 1838 financial vouchers as a voyageur. 

6. Samuel Dentan and Daniel Gavin, missionaries from Lausanne, had es- 
tablished themselves at the head of Lake Pepin where a small band of Sioux 
lived in what was commonly known as Red Wing's village (folwell, 

7. Two days later, agent Taliaferro noted in his journal that his steamboat 
overtook the Nicollet party of seven on a barge below Mt. Trempeleau. "We 
could not hail or have a word with them as I wished" (MnHi). 

10. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogrl. Engineers 
Washington, Oct. 26th 1838 

A requisition for three thousand dollars has been this day made in 
your favor. The amount will be sent to you at St. Louis. Respectfully, 

}. J. Abert C.T.E. 
Lbk (DNA-77,LS, 3:5). 

1 1. J. J. Abert to Pratte, Chouteau and Company 

Bureau of Topogrl. Engineers 
Washington, Novr. 12th 1838. 

Your letter of the 31 Octr. {not found] has this moment been re- 

I cannot see what possible difference it can make by whom or 
through whom your advances on account of the expedition under 
Mr. Nicollet are paid. In case of advance of money, the advance will 
be refunded, in case of sales of goods, the goods will be paid for, but 
for the reason in my last & its inclosure Lt. Fremont was made the 
monied agent of the expedition. All this was known (to Mr. Nicol- 
let) before his departure and, of course, before you had advanced a 
dollar. Mr. Nicollets drafts will without doubt be paid by Lt. Fre- 
mont, and to enable him to meet these and other engagements of 


the expedition, a requisition for S3000 to be placed at his disposal at 
St. Louis was made on the 26th of October. 

On many days previous to the departure of Mr. Nicollet from this 
place and for many after, the illness of Mr. Poinsett was such, that 
no business intercourse was had with him. The expedition was 
therefore organized entirely by this office, in a way presumed to 
coincide with his views, and in conformity with the general custom 
in such cases. But in my letter to you of the 18th you are informed 
that Lt. Fremonts application for funds would be immediately com- 
plied with. He will adjust your accounts if approved by Mr. Nicollet. 
Mr. Nicollet could of course approve of your cash advances on his 
draft, there could therefore be no difficulty or delay in the adjust- 
ment. And to prevent the possibility of delay, in anticipation of the 
wants of the expedition, the amount of $3000 as before stated was 
sent on the 26th of last month. You will perceive therefore that to 
meet your cash advances every arrangement has already been made 
& without any knowledge in this office of the assurances of the 
Secretary to which you refer, those assurances have been fully met. 

It was not possible for the Department to send funds to you in 
order to meet Mr. Nicollets drafts on your firm; it could only have 
paid such drafts drawn on the Department in your favour. Then the 
draft would have been charged to Nicollet and he would have had 
to have accounted for the expenditures of the amount. Had the 
money have been sent to you to meet Nicollet's drafts then you 
would have been charged with the amount on the book of the Trea- 
sury, and you would have had to have accounts for the expenditure. 
Either of these courses would have put Mr. Nicollet or yourself to 
great inconvenience. On these accounts Lt. Fremont was made the 
agent, and as he was directed to pay any account that Mr. Nicollet 
should approve it preserves the customary form and kept Mr. Nicol- 
let at the head. I have made these explanations to satisfy you that 
the arrangement is proper and that every proper result be relied 
upon with confidence. 

J. J. Abert CI. Tl. En. 

Lbk (DNA-77,LS, 3:10-11). 


12. Joseph N. Nicollet to F. R. Hassler 

St. Louis, 26 December 1838 
My dear friend, 

Mr. Charles Fremont, who will give you this letter, is the lieuten- 
ant of the topographic corps who accompanied me in my expedition 
as first assistant. I present him to you as a special friend, very eager 
to make your acquaintance, and very capable of appreciating your 
great work. He will give you all the details of my campaign which 
was very happy, and will explain to you the reasons which keep me 
here another several weeks. I am in a hurry to see you again and am 
exceedingly vexed at the forced delay I face in getting myself im- 
mediately to Washington. It was impossible to give you word of 
myself earlier, having been constantly away from all means of com- 
munication with civilization. I had news of you through Col. Abert, 
when I arrived at the place where mail awaited me. But nothing 
more recent than the month of August. I am making a vow that we 
will find each other under the same roof to spend together those 
moments of conversation that are so dear to me. In the hope of see- 
ing you again soon, I abstain from writing you more lengthily, hav- 
ing much to do to send off Mr. Fremont to Washington with all 
my paperwork. 

Adieu, my dear friend, my best to all your family, and to you 

more than ever, 

J. N. Nicollet 

ALS, RC (NN— Hassler Papers). Addressed. The original is in French. 
Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler (1770-1843) had come to die U.S. from Switzer- 
land in 1805 and was now superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic 
Survey. He would soon be inviting his good friend Nicollet, and young JCF, 
to make some nighttime astronomical observations atop his house in Wash- 
ington (CAJORI; KEVINS, 48-50). 

13. Financial Records, 1838 

[31 Dec. 1838] 

Editorial note: The value of financial records in historical docu- 
mentation is nearly self-evident. In the case of exploring expeditions, 


these records provide more than just fiscal information: they list 
equipment and supplies, and the suppliers dealt with; they present 
a rough chronology of an expedition ; and they provide a usually re- 
liable roster of the personnel and the period of employment for each 
man. It is not uncommon for the name of an engage or other em- 
ployee to appear nowhere but in the financial records. 

It is necessary, however, to be selective in presenting such records. 
The most useful items are the individual vouchers which go to make 
up the quarterly reports of the man charged with disbursing the 
funds. We shall concentrate upon these, citing other documents 
when they provide useful information. And we shall do a good deal 
of normalizing and summarizing, feeling that a slavish attempt to 
reproduce all the myriad bits of documentation in utter faithfulness 
to capitalization, spelling, and format cannot serve any historio- 
graphic purpose. 

In some cases, wording has been simplified or omitted but the 
meaning has not been altered. Prices of individual items are usually 
omitted if they can easily be determined by the total price. 

JCF's accounts are fairly complete in the National Archives, us- 
ually compiled on a yearly basis — each quarter occasionally reported 
separately — and with all the documents folded in thirds and tied 
with ribbon. Each of these packets is a "consolidated file," contain- 
ing, besides the vouchers which represent JCF's disbursements, var- 
ious summaries, abstracts of disbursements, and a statement of 
account current. Supporting letters are sometimes present, and will 
be quoted or given in full when they contribute information. 

JCF's accounts for the four quarters of 1838 are in DNA-217, 
Third Auditor's Reports and Accounts, Account No. 10954. 

Voucher No. 1, St. Louis, 17 May 1838 
U.S. to Henry Chouteau 

15 May 1838 

Bill for medicine chest 19.87 

21 bbls. biscuit @ 2.50, keg 250 9.00 

100 lbs. dried beef @ 12^0, box 250 12.75 

3| tablettes de bouillon 14.00 

117 lbs. sausages 15.00 

4 boxes sardines 6.00, and 10 lbs. chocolate 7.50 13.50 

2 lbs. arrowroot @ .75, box .75 2.25 


4 lbs. tea 4.00 

Lantern, candles, sugar, tobacco, etc. 11.50 

10 lbs. Mocha coffee 2.20 

8 hams, lOli lbs. 12.68 

1 keg butter 7.00 

1 doz. port wine 12.00 

4 bottles Cognac brandy 4.00 

Sugar 8.50 

34 lbs. salt 1.02 

Box 500, 3 tin canisters 1.00, dray age 250 1.75 
17 May 1838 

1 box sperm candles, 36 lbs. @ 450, box 250 16.45 


Rect. 17 May by ]. Richardson. Certified by JCF. Endorsed by J. F. A. San- 
ford: "I certify that J. Richardson is an Employe in the service of H. Chou- 
teau Grocer & Compy. Merchants, St. Louis, Mo., and as such, is in the habit 
of receipting for any money due to Chouteau. Merchants in that country 
always give their clerks this authority." In an unknown hand: "The Bill & 
receipt for Medicine Chest wanting $19.87." Later endorsement by JCF: "The 
man from whom the Medicine Chest was purchased could not be found on 
our return to St. Louis, from the Western Country, & as it was actually pur- 
chased by me from Mr. Chouteau, I supposed that his receipt would be re- 
garded as satisfactory. C. Fremont." Henri P. Chouteau (1805-55), a 
wholesale grocer and commission and forwarding merchant, was located at 39 
N. Front Street, St. Louis, in 1839 (j. f. mc dermott [2], 176). John F. A. 
Sanford was associated with P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company, acting mainly 
as a liaison between St. Louis and the East (sunder, 6-7). 

Many of the vouchers accumulated valuable information in the process of 
being receipted, certified, and endorsed. In such cases, the information will 
be noted. But many are routinely receipted at the place and on the date drawn, 
by the person to whom the money was owing, and are routinely certified by 
JCF as having "been received by me and used, or intended to be used, etc." 
Where nothing is to be learned from the receipting, certification, and endorse- 
ment, they are omitted. 

Voucher No. 2, St. Peters, 13 Sept. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

16 July through 3 Aug. 

Sundry articles furnished Mr. Nicollet at Lac qui Parle, viz.: 

Binding and lead 10-1^ 

1 sheep, 6.00, 9 lbs. shot, 10 lbs. tobacco 10.75 

45 lbs. lead, 10 lbs. tobacco, 20 lbs. pemmican 10.62 

45 lbs. sugar, 4 plates, 4 spoons, and 4 forks 12.25 


canoe, 15.00, 30 lbs. flour, 2.10 17.10 

1 basket and bag for mess 4.00 

soap 3.00 


Rect. 13 Sept. 1838 at St. Peters by H. H. Sibley, as agent for the American 
Fur Company. 

Voucher No. 3, St. Peters, 13 Sept. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

10 Sept. 1838 

To advances of sundry necessaries to men at Lac qui Parle 15.20 

less: by amount received for 1 vv^ooden canoe 12.00 


Rect. 13 Sept. 1838 by H. H. Sibley as agent for the American Fur Com- 
pany. Certified by JCF and endorsed by him: "The particulars of the Bill are 
of such a nature that they could not be specified in detail, such as a pound of 
beef to one man, a few potatoes to another & so on with the rest. C. Fremont." 

Voucher No. 4, St. Peters, 13 Sept. 1838 
U.S. to Stambaugh and Sibley 

5 June 1838 

For articles furnished Mr. Nicollet's expedition at Fort 


115 lbs. bacon 28.75, 2 lbs. tea 3.00, 4 lbs. coffee 1.00 32.75 

20 lbs. rice, 2.50, 3 bed cords 1.50 4.00 

1 pair shoe brushes 50(^, 2 boxes blacking 250 .75 

6 tin cups 750, 1 set knives and forks 4.00, 6 spoons 1.38 6.13 
\ doz. teaspoons 500, \ doz. plates 6/, 1 tin pan 750 2.00 

1 frying pan 1.50, 1 tea pot 1.00, 1 tea kettle 4.50 7.00 

2 lbs. candles 1.00, 2 bars soap 12/, 1 tin basin 690 3.19 
1 candlestick 620, 1 loaf salt, 440, 1 teapot 1.00 2.06 
1 piece tape 250, 1 fish line 250 .50 
29 Aug. 

6 lead pencils 900, 1^ quires paper 750 1.65 

1 Sept. 

2| gals, wine to me 5.50 

1 bottle port wine 1.00 Paid Mrs. Campbell for washing 1.87 2.87 



Rect. 13 Sept. 1838 at St. Peters by H. H. Sibley as agent for the American 
Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Endorsed: "I certify that H. H. Sibley whose 
name is affixed to the within receipt, is the agent of the Am. Fur Co. West 
Depart, and that he is authorized to receipt for them, or Stambaugh & Sibley. 
J. F. A. Sanford." Samuel C. Stambaugh and Sibley were partners in the 
sutlership at Fort Snelling. Stambaugh, the former publisher of a county 
newspaper in Pennsylvania, had been appointed to the Indian agency at Green 
Bay in 1832. When his appointment was rejected by the Senate, President 
Andrew Jackson sent him to Wisconsin as a special agent (jones, 186; mar- 
tin). Mrs. Campbell may be Marguerite Menager Campbell, the wife of Scott 
Campbell, who was an interpreter at Fort Snelling for some twenty-five years 

(WILLIAMS [1], 134; HOFFMANN, 35-37, 42). 

Voucher No. 5, St. Peters, 13 Sept. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

YJ June 

For sundries furnished Mr. Nicollet at Traverse des Sioux, viz: 

3 pieces fancy calico, 96f yds. 24.00 

1 tin kettle 14/, 1 gun $6.00 7.75 

2 tin pans 10/, 1 piece ribbon 6/ 2.00 
10 lbs. powder @ 5/, 32 lbs. lead @ 10^^ 9.45 
10 lbs. tobacco, 1^ coffee 2.25 
30 lbs. Hour @ 6<^, 2 lbs. sugar @ 200 2.20 
4^ lbs. rice @ 1/; amt. paid Provencalle per request 12.00 12.53 
8 lbs. tobacco @ 20^, 12 lbs. lead @ 100 2.80 
12 lbs. salt @ 50, 1 cod line 8/ 1.60 


Rect. 13 Sept. 1838 at St. Peters by H. H. Sibley as agent for the American 
Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor's comment on endorsement sheet: 
"The Bill & Receipt for the Amt. paid Provencalle wanting, $12.00." Added 
comment by JCF: "The same remarks applicable to this as to other bills of 
Am. Fur Compy. Agents. C. F." Louis Provencalle (ca. 1780-ca. 1850) was a 
Minnesota trader for more than twenty-five years. He was in charge of the 
post at Traverse des Sioux when Sibley made his first inspection there in 
1835 (babcock). 

Voucher No. 6, St. Peters, 13 Sept. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

25 Aug. 1838 

6 lbs. powder 4.50, 13 lbs. lead 13/ 6.13 

20 lbs flour 1.50, 2 lbs. tobacco 6/ 2.25 

1 keg powder, 25 lbs. 13.00, 1 bag corn 4.00 17.00 

^ yd. ticking 1/, thread 60, paid for bark canoe 35.00 35.19 


i bag corn 2.00, 26 lbs. bacon 6.50 8.50 

1 lb. turtle twine 5/, 1 lb. candles 2/, 22 lbs. flour 1.65 2.53 
Repairing frying pan 6/, 2 lbs. Tobacco 4/ 1.25 
paid Benjamin Dyonne 81 days service @ 1.00 81.00 
hire of 6 horses & carts 57 days from 18 June to 13 Aug., and 

of 2 horses & carts 63 days from 18 June to 19 Aug., in all 

468 days @ 750 per diem 351.00 

Paid Joseph Laframboise for a calf furnished by him 10.00 

Paid Mrs. Perry for washing 7.13 


Rect. 13 Sept. 1838 at St. Peters by H. H. Sibley as agent for the American 
Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor's note states bills and receipts lack- 
ing for canoe and for money to Dyonne and Laframboise. Endorsement by 
JCF: "These things were, as others, purchased of the Am. Fur Compy. from 
whom the receipt was obtained. C.F." The name of Benjamin Dyomme ap- 
pears frequently in the ledgers and daybooks of the American Fur Company, 
1835-45. Joseph Laframboise had been an American Fur Company agent at 
Lake of the Two Woods on the Coteau des Prairies in 1835, but that post 
was now abandoned and he was serving as a guide to Nicollet, sibley [3] 
and WILSON provide information on his life and trading activities. Mrs. Perry 
is probably Mary Ann Perry (d. 1859), wife of Swiss watchmaker Abraham 
Perry, who had come to Fort Snelling in 1827 (williams [1], 66-67, 101). 
But as Sophy Perry collected the money (Mendota Day Book, 23 June 1838, 
Sibley Papers) it is possible that "Mrs. Perry" is the daughter-in-law of the 
elder Perrys, though we suspect she is one of Mary Ann's six daughters collect- 
ing the money for her mother. 

Voucher No. 7, St. Peters, [ ] Sept. 1838 
U.S. to Americaji Fur Company 

28 May 1838 

2 barrels flour 22.00, 1 barrel pork 22.00 44.00 
freight of 1300 lbs. to Traverse des Sioux 6.50 
30 May 

2 lbs tobacco 8/, 1 bag shot 2.75 3.75 

1 2-quire blank book 12/, 23 yds. mosquito netting 8.63 10.13 

8 yds. cotton 20/, thread 2/, knife 6/, needles 2/ 3.75 

4 June 

thread 2/, 2 yds. stroud 6.00, 8 lbs. tobacco 1.60 7.85 

8 June 

14 lbs. sugar 2.80, 3 pair 3-pt. blankets 30.00 32.80 

1 pair 2fpt. blankets 9.00, 12 bushel corn 18.00, 6 bags 12/ 28.50 

4 barrels flour 44.00, 3 barrels pork 66.00, large kettle 3.00 113.00 


6 guns 58.50, 1 crow bar 3.00 61.50 

3 drills & hammer 3.00, 1 axe 3.00, 1 yd. cotton 2/, 1 hatchet 

6/ 7.00 
paid for making mosquito bar 1.50, 1 quire ruled cap 

paper 4/ 2.00 

1 patent gimlet 1 /6, 36 lbs. navy bread 3.60, 40 lbs. flour 3.00 6.79 


Rect. [ ] Sept. 1838 at St. Peters by H. H. Sibley as agent for the Ameri- 
can Fur Company. Certified by JCF. 

Voucher No. 8, St. Peters, [ ] Sept. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

4 June 1838 

40 lbs. pork 7.50, 20 flints 3/, 12 gun worms 6/ 8.63 

30 June 

1 barrel flour 12.00, 1 barrel pork 24.00, 57 lbs. sugar 11.50 47.50 

2 bags corn 240 lbs. 7.50, 2 bags to contain 4/ 8.00 
9 July 

amount of Majese Ascaud's [Arcand's] wages 25 days @ 1.00 25.00 

9 Aug. 

2 lbs. soap -^7 

25 Aug. 

Service of Joseph Laframboise as guide and interpreter 

78 days @ 2.50 per diem 195.00 

Paid Laframboise for use of horse for 43 days 43.00 

James Clewett services as voyageur 83 days @ 1.00 83.00 

Eusebe Lanctot same, 87 days 87.00 

Maxime Maxwell same, 81 days 81.00 

Pierre Boucher same, 86^ days 86.50 

Joseph Brunelle same, 80| days 80.50 

Francois Dezirie for services as cook lQO-25 


Rect. [ ] Sept. 1838 at St. Peters by H. H. Sibley as agent for the American 
Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor's note inquires about absence of 
supporting documents. Endorsement by JCF: "The same remarks are appli- 
cable to this as to other bills from agent of American Fur Compy. C. F." 
Arcand, Lanctot, and Boucher are not identified, although their names appear 
frequendy in the ledgers and daybooks kept at Mendota. Brunelle, a voyageur 
and scout, was said to be more than one hundred years old when he died in 


1912 (letter of L. J. Carpenter, 11 Feb. 1935, Historical Information File, 
MnHi). James Reuben Clewett (b. 1810), an Englishman, came to Minnesota 
from Canada as a voyageur and clerk for the American Fur Company, work- 
ing first at the post below Lake Pepin and later at Lake Traverse (williams 
f 1], 88-89). Fran(;ois Dezirie is undoubtedly Desire Fronchet, who boasted of 
having been a soldier under Napoleon. He may have served in the U.S. Army 
at Fort Snelling, and in 1836 had been employed by Nicollet during the ex- 
pedition to the headwaters of the Mississippi (nicollet, 92; jones, 169; 
WILLIAMS [1], 63). 

Voucher No. 9, Prairie du Chien, 26 Nov. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

19 Nov. 

3 blank books 6/, 9 steel pens & 2 handles 12/ 3.75 

8 skeins twine 1/, 1 box caps 3/, 1 lb. shot 1/ 1.50 

1 pair blue blankets 3^ pt. 16.00 

1 fine pen knife 1.50 
26 Nov. 

paid H. Francis for board of party 20.25 

Cash paid Lieut. Fremont 500.00 


Rect. at Prairie du Chien 26 Nov. 1838 by H. L. Dousman as agent for the 
American Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor's note states the $500.00 
will be credited to account of JCF for first quarter 1839. Subvoucher lack- 
ing for amount paid H. Francis. Endorsement by JCF: "This is a bill of 
Mr. Dousman's which I knew to be correct, and paid under the supposition 
that he was the only person with whom I could be considered as dealing. 
C. F." Hercules L. Dousman (1800-1868) was a partner of Joseph Rolette at 
the American Fur Company station. The two men made the establishment a 
powerful one, controlling trade over a wide area to the north and west (sib- 
ley [1]). H. Francis is not identified. 

Voucher No. 10, St. Louis, 3 Jan. 1839 
U.S. to Pratte, Chouteau and Company 

For advances to J. N. Nicollet on account of 

Exploring expedition 
24 May 1838 

Paid for sundry articles of merchandise for Indian presents 317.23 
Paid for tent 26.50 

1 June 
Paid for sundry merchandise as presents to Renville's family 

at Lake Traverse 73.86 


24 Sept. 

Paid draft in favor of H. Sibley 1899.33 

18 Nov. 

Paid draft in favor of H. L. Dousman 1312.40 

17 Dec. 

Paid draft in favor of H. L. Dousman 539.50 

Paid postage .50 

31 Dec. 

Paid draft in favor of Lt. Fremont 500.00 


Rect. at St. Louis, 3 Jan. 1839, by Pratte, Chouteau and Co. Certified by 
JCF. Auditor's note indicates subvouchers lacking. Endorsement by JCF: "As 
Mr. Chouteau was the only person concerned with me in the transactions 
specified on the face of the acct. I did not think it necessary to require of him 
certificates as to the amount which he paid for the several articles on the bill. 
C. F." 

Voucher No. 11, St. Louis, 1 Jan. 1839 
U.S. to John Charles Fremont 


Transportation of party, instruments and baggage under 
the command of J. N. Nicollet from Prairie du Chien 
to St. Louis 300.47 

1 chronometer guard chain 8.00 
Repair of sextant 2.50 

2 thermometers 5.00 


Rect. at St. Louis 1 Jan. 1839 by JCF. Certified by JCF. Auditor notes that 
subvouchers are missing. Endorsement by JCF: "The expenditures for trans- 
portation of the party &c. were made little by little in a wild country and to a 
people unacquainted with such things as accounts. Vouchers in form for every 
expenditure could only have been obtained at the sacrifice of public interest 
by the delay which it would have occasioned. The guard chain, thermometers, 
and repair of sextant were paid by Mr. Nicollet whose certificate is hereunto 
annexed. C. Fremont." Endorsement by Nicollet certifying to his purchase of 
the equipment. 

Voucher No. 12, Washington, 1 Feb. 1839 
U.S. to John Charles Fremont 


To services rendered in the capacity of assistant engineer 


in a geographical expedition under command of J. N. 
Nicollet from 15 April to 31 Dec. inclusively at four 
dollars per diem 1036.00 

To travelling expenses at 10 cents per mile, 2520 miles, 
viz.: from Washington to St. Louis, thence to Fort Snel- 
ling, and from St. Louis to Washington 252.00 


Rect. 1 Feb. 1839 at Washington, D.C., by JCF. Certified by JCF. 

Voucher No. 13, Prairie du Chien, 7 Nov. 1838 
U.S. to America?i Fur Company 

14 Sept. 

1 cod line 8/, 1 bed cord 5/, 1 bbl. flour 14.00, 1 bbl. pork 

26.00 41.63 

1 box blacking 2/, 1 auger 6/, 1 drawing knife 10/ 2.25 

1 hand saw 16/, 3 tin dippers 9/, rope 8/ 4.13 

24 lbs bacon 6.00, difference on robes, 2.00, 22 lbs. flour 1.65 9.65 
17 Sept. 

Paid A. Ferribault for horse 120.00, 9 lbs pork 1.38 121.38 
5 Oct. 

Paid Indian guide, Nez Coupee 10.00 
20 Oct. 

Amt. of account with Stambaugh & Sibley 42.35 

difference on blankets 3.00, corn and pork 5.50 

1 bushel potatoes 4/, looking glass 2/, 20 lbs. sugar 4.00 4.75 

Hire of horse, 3 carts, 3 harness, 36^ days 54.50 

1 mule killed by Indians or stolen 30.50 

Paid D. Ferribault for 33 days service as interpreter @ 2.50 82.50 
1 bbl. pork 30.00, 1 bushel potatoes 4/, 5 lbs. pork 6/, 5 lbs. 

salt 2/ 31.50 

Paid A. Ferribault for 33 days hire of horse @ 6/ 24.75 


Rect. at Prairie du Chien 7 Nov. 1838 by H. L. Dousman as agent for the 
American Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor notes lack of subvouchers for 
several items. Endorsement by JCF: "As to those things for- which subvouchers 
are required, I can only say that Mr. Dousman was the man from whom the 
actual purchase was made and I cannot see that it is requisite that I should 
furnish the receipt of the person from whom he purchased. C. Fremont." 


David Faribault (d. ca. 1886) was the young son of Jean Baptiste Faribault. 
Like his father and his brothers, Alexander and Oliver, he also became a 

Voucher No. 14, Prairie du Chien, 7 Nov. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

9 Sept. 1838 

4 lbs. tobacco 12/, 1 lb. twine 5/, 2 quires paper 8/ 3.13 

4 papers matches 8/, 2 fish lines 2/, 10 lbs. flour 6/, 6 lbs. 
pork 900 2.91 

13 Sept. 

soap 7/6, 1 pair brushes 6/, 1 box blacking 2/, 1 lb twine 6/ 2.56 

14 Sept. 

1 horse 50.00 and double barreled gun 40.00, presented to J. 
Renville Jr. for services as guide and interpreter and for 

loan of wagons, horses, etc. 90.00 

32 lbs. tobacco 8.00, 2 kettles 34/, 6 forks 18/, 6 spoons 3/ 14.88 

1 sickle 12/, 6 tin cups 6/, 2 lbs. nails 3/, 3^ yds. cotton 8/ 3.63 

1 frying pan 6/, 2 bags 4/, 1 axe helve 2/ 1.50 

1 bbl. flour 13.00, 1 bbl. mess pork 30.00 43.00 

1 plough line 3/, pd. Mrs. Latourville for mending, 5.00 5.38 

1 blue cloth capot 6.00, 1 yd. ribbon 130 6.13 
paid wages of men with provisions during Mr. Nicollet's 

stay at St. Peters 43.00 


Rect. at Prairie du Chien 7 Nov. 1838 by H. L. Dousman as agent for the 
American Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor questions lack of sub- 
vouchers. Endorsement by JCF: "With the exception of the sanction of the 
Secy, of War for the present to Renville this acct. is of the same nature of the 
others of Mr. Dousman's. C. F." Mrs. Latourville is not identified. 

Voucher No. 15, Prairie du Chien, [ ] Nov. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

3 Nov. 

2 pocket flasks @ 4/, 3 quires paper 3/ 2.13 
paid Joseph Rolette for 1 wood canoe 20.00 
12 mackerels @ 1/, 3 lbs. rice @ 22/, 2 loaves bread @ 1/ 2.12 

1 lb. chocolate 3/, 2 thermometers @ 22/, 1 bottle ink 3/ 6.25 

2 steel pens @ 1/, 3 lead pencils @ 1/ -63 


9 Nov. 

5 steel pens & handles 6/, 1 sheet drawing paper 1/ 

4 lead pencils @ 1/, 1 doz. quills 3/ 

2 cakes soap 5/, 1 yd. diaper 2/, 1| yds. gauze 6/, 1 lb. soap 

1 scarlet belt 4/, 4 lbs. lead 4/, 1 plough line 3/ 
14 sheets envelope paper 
Sundry provisions and supplies furnished to the party 








Rect. at Prairie du Chien [ ] Nov. 1838 by H. L. Dousman as agent for 
the American Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Endorsed by JCF: "The same 
remarks are appHcable to this as to the other bill of Mr. Dousman's for 
$465.39. C. F." Joseph Rolette (1781-1842), a fur trader and land speculator 
at Prairie du Chien, was associated with Hercules L. Dousman in the Ameri- 
can Fur Company after 1826 (dict. wis. bigg.). Zebulon Pike met him (and 
archly declined a gift of brandy, coffee, and sugar) during his expedition of 

Voucher No. 16, Prairie du Chien, [ ] Nov. 1838 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

20 Oct. 

Paid D. Ferribault for a blanket 6.00 and a double barreled 

gun 20.00, presented to Indian guide 26.00 

[ ] Nov. 

Paid the following for services 

George Cournoyer 61.00 

Joseph Brunelle 80.75 

Jean Baptiste Gea 70.00 

Maxime Maxwell 73.00 

Chs. Prevost 51.51 

Pierre Lanoix 60.00 

Louis Quenon 74.25 

Paid Louis Rock for services as guide and interpreter 37 

days @ 1.50, and for powder, lead, and potatoes, 72.75. 

Credit 1 double-barrelled gun 45.00 27.75 


Rect. at Prairie du Chien [ ] Nov. 1838 by H. L. Dousman as agent for 
the American Fur Company. Certified by JCF. Auditor's note questions lack 
of subvouchers. Endorsement by JCF: "Same explanation as to other accts. of 
Mr. D's. C. F." George Cournoyer was listed as a resident of St. Paul in 1850 
(wiLLiAMs [1], 267). Louis Rock [Rocque] was the son of Augustin Rocque, 
the trader living below Lake Pepin. Prevost, Lanoix, and Quenon not identi- 



fied; but obviously Nicollet thought highly of Lanoix as he requested that Sib- 
ley bring him and George Cournoyer to Lac qui Pade (Nicollet to Sibley, St. 
Louis, 18 March 1839, MnHi— Sibley Papers). Gea is referred to elsewhere 
as "Baptisier." 

Voucher No. 17 [not present^ 

Voucher No. 18, St. Louis, 6 Dec. 1838 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

Bill A [see below] 51.75 

Bill B [see below] 46.00 

L India rubber, for canoe coverings, to secure provisions, 

instruments, etc. 

2. Transportation of instruments and baggage from Balti- 
more to St. Louis, by stages and steamboats 48.50 

3. Nautical almanac, American almanac 6.50 

4. Paid to w^atchmaker for a chronometer box, to secure a 
valuable chronometer that belongs to U.S. 2.25 

N.B. 1 to 4, no receipts. At the time I paid out those articles 
I was ignorant of the rules to be observed on keeping pub- 
lic accounts, and the accounting officer of the expedition 
had not yet joined with me. 187.50 

Rect. at St. Louis 6 Dec. 1838 by J. N. Nicollet. Certified by JCF. 

Bill A, U.S. to George Engelmann, M.D., 17 May 1838 
Vaccine matter 19.00 

Camphor, peppermint and other drugs 2.25 

apparatus for geological surveys (hammers, chisel, punch, 

and a big knife) 9.50 

paper, 8 reams, for preserving plants 
boxing up the same 


Bill B, U.S. to J. & S. Hawken, 17 May 1838 
One fine American fowling piece, double barrel, with leather 



For a note on Dr. George Engelmann, of St. Louis, see under Doc. No. 31. 
The Hawken brothers, Jacob (1786-1849) and Samuel (b. 1792), were St. 
Louis gunmakers whose "Hawken rifle" was famous from the Alleghenies 
to the Rockies. It was the weapon in common use by the American Fur Com- 
pany (scHARF, 1:809-10). 


Voucher No. 19, Baltimore, 18 April 1838 
U.S. to ]ames Green 

12 April 

Repairing barometer 12.00 

repairing microscope -75 

repairing magnetic compass, brass needle 1.50 

2 mountain barometers 50.00 

2 cases for same 5.50 
6 pocket thermometers 15.00 
6 dark glasses 2.25 

3 magnifiers 2.25 


discount 2.00 


Certified by J. N. Nicollet. Dr. George Engelmann noted that for forty 
years he had used instruments made by James (iree-n, of Baltimore and New 
York (bek, pt. 4, p. 85). In 1840, Green was located at 1 S. Liberty Street, 

1. In addition to the vouchers presented above, one small subvoucher is 
present, a bill from the steamboat Burlington for freight from St. Louis to 
St. Peters, 924 pounds @ 1.00 per cwt, totaling $13.86. Rect. at St. Peters 26 
May 1838 in a clerk's hand. 

The collection of vouchers assembled here represents JCF's first encounter 
with the rigorous requirements of the War Department in the keeping of 
accounts. Not only was he new at the task, but he had a natural aversion to 
such niceties which was to bring him into conflict with bookkeepers and 
auditors throughout all his service for the government. Given Nicollet's own 
naive approach to such formalities, the two men combined must have put 
despair into the hearts of the Washington staff. Colonel Abert was to find 
many an occasion to justify, to the auditors, the informality of JCF's ac- 
counts. He first attempted it in a letter (filed with these accounts) of 16 Dec. 
1840 to Secretary of War Joel R. Poinsett: "The U.S. had no funds for 
the Survey, and this [American Fur] Company had to advance and pay for 
everything, which it did at the request of the War Department. The high 
character of this Company for integrity, puts that point beyond question. And 
in reference to items in the bills of the Company, in which they charge an 
amount as being paid for an article, and which is objected to for the want of 
a subvoucher, it appears to me that this is an exactness without adequate ob- 
ject. The remark in the bill, if it proves anything, proves that the Company 
had not the article for sale, procured it for the U.S. and charged for it no 
more than it cost them. . . . The Company are not manufacturers. Every- 
thing they sell was bought from some one, but articles procured by them and 
not in their line were furnished to the U.S. without profit. No subvoucher 
was in my judgment, more necessary in such cases than for any other article." 
By way of further explanation, Abert wrote to the Treasury Department: 


"There is a circumstance connected with the expenditures under Lieut. Fre- 
mont, and of which the Comptroller was probably not aware, which places 
the American Fur Company so frequently in the attitude of an original pay- 
master. It is, that having no funds at the time, appropriated for the expedi- 
tion, it was sustained entirely (and at the request of the War Department) by 
the resources and means of that company. In fact, that company supplied 
every thing and had to await an appropriation before it was paid" (Lbk, 
DNA-77, LS, 4:319). 

JCF was still explaining, in a letter of 26 Feb. 1841 to the Second Comp- 
troller of the Treasury (filed with the above financial accounts), why he did 
not have proper receipts from the engages who were paid by Pierre Chouteau, 
Jr. "The causes, arising from the nature of the service in an uncivilized re- 
gion, which led to so loose a method of keeping accounts, and my own 
inexperience in such matters, I have, heretofore, explained in remarks ac- 
companying the several vouchers for my expenditures. . . ." 

14. Fremont to J. J. Abert 

St. Louis 1 Jany. 1839 


I have the honor to accept the appointment which has been con- 
ferred upon me of 2d Lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical 
Engineers. Respectfully Sir Your Obt. Servt., 

C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (DNA-94, 5309 ACP file 1879 John C. Fremont). Endorsed; 
reed. 26 Jan. 1839. 

15. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topi. Engrs. 
Washington, Jany. 4th 1839 

I have received your letter of the 21st^ and congratulate you on 
your safe return to St. Louis. This with one from Prairie du Chien at 
the termination of your first expedition, and the two brought by Mr. 
Montmort are the only letters which have been received from either 


Mr. Nicollet or yourself since your departure, last spring, from St. 

I hope you may not be so truly unfortunate as to lose the Geologi- 
cal and botanical collection. 

If you should have occasion to make a draft in order to close your 
accounts with Pratt Chouteau & Co. please to draw it on this Bureau. 

J. J. Abert. CI. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 3:40). 

1. JCF's 21 Dec. 1838 letter, referred to here by Abert, was listed in the 
Register of Letters Received, but is no longer present in the National Archives. 
This is true also of his 19 Nov. 1838 letter, written from Prairie du Chien, in 
which he reported Nicollet was ill. 

16. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau Topi. Enginrs. 
Washington, March 2d 1839 

You will repair to St. Louis as soon as practicable, & there join- 
ing Mr. Nicollet, will aid him in his geographl. operations. 

The experience which you have had with your accts., will, I hope, 
prevent the encountering of similar difficulties hereafter, & impress 
upon your mind the necessity of bills in detail and receipts. You can 
procure the materials for a small flag and have it made. 

The Secretary agrees to the recommendation of Mr. Nicollet in 
reference to Mess. Geyers & Flandin & you are therefore authorized 
to pay them for the expedition of the present year a compensation of 
two dollars per day to each in full for their services. 

In addition to the requisition for $500 to be paid to you at this 
place, another for $1500 has been this day made in your favour to be 
sent to St. Louis & Mess. Pratt Chouteau & Co. will be written to & 
requested to credit your demands to the amount of $5000. 

Whether Mess. Pratt Chouteau & Co. credit to you will be liqui- 
dated by sending money to St. Louis, or by authorizing you to draw 
on the Bureau for the amt. when the expedition has terminated can- 


not now be decided, but will be by the time you will close your acct. 
with them. 

The compensation to Mr. Nicollet & to Mess. Geyer and Flandin 
will be paid by you, as required by them, as far as practicable out of 
the funds sent to you & for which you will have credit with Mess. 
Pratt Chouteau & Co. 

The plan of the expedition for the present year, as indicated in a 
letter from Mr. Nicollet to you, of the 9th of Jany. (on file in this 
ofhce) is fully approved by the Secretary.^ Respectfy, 

J. J. Abert. CI. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 3:98-99). 

1. JCF submitted Nicollet's plan for the 1839 operation in a letter to the 
bureau, 23 Feb. 1839. It was registered as received, but is no longer present. 
What Nicollet proposed was to continue the operation now being called "Mil- 
itary and Geographical Survey of the Country West of the Mississippi and 
North of the Missouri." He and JCF were preparing to depart in the spring, 
first ascending the Missouri by steamboat. Since the vessel was scheduled to 
leave St. Louis in March, it was necessary for the bureau to send them off be- 
fore funds had been appropriated (see Doc. No. 17). Documents which fol- 
low are selected to outline the course of the expedition and JCF's role in it, 
but Nicollet's official Report is not presented. 

17. J. J. Abert to Pratte, Chouteau and Company 

Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington March 2d 1839 

I am directed by the Hon. Secrety. of War to inform you that he 
has approved of the expedition to the West for the present year, as 
indicated by Mr. Nicollet, & I am also authorized to request you to 
meet the demands of the expedition for an amount of $5000. Lt. 
Fremont is the disbursing agent of the expedition. 

In liquidating such advances & credits as you shall give, the Dept. 
w^ill either transmit funds to you at St. Louis or authorize Lt. Fre- 
mont to draw bills on the Dept., payable here, after the expedition 
has terminated, but I cannot novi^ say which course it will be in its 
power to adopt. I am however at liberty to assure you that it will 
adopt whichever course shall be found agreeable to you & which 


shall not militate against the necessary regulations of the Treasury 
Dept. Respectfully, 

J. J. Abert, CI. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 3:98). Once again it became necessary for the govern- 
ment to relv upon private interests to finance an expedition. Having received 
authorization from the Secretary of War and assurances from Congress that 
the necessary appropriations would be made, Abert was embarrassed by a sub- 
stantial oversight. After the adjournment of Congress, while the expedition 
was under way, it was found that the appropriation for the survey had "es- 
caped attention." In his annual report of 30 Dec. 1839, it was necessary for 
Abert to plead for the money, and to suggest that funds be provided for ad- 
ditional surveys. "Our operations have been heretofore limited to the region 
north of the Missouri and west of the Mississippi but not extending west- 
wardly to the Rocky mountains. It is extremely desirable that means to fill 
up the hiatus south of the Missouri and to extend the observations to the 
Rocky mountains should now be granted. It would really be questioning the 
known intelligence of the country were one to reason upon the advantages of 
correct geographical knowledge, or of the national benefit of obtaining now 
in time of peace, a knowledge of so vast a region bordering upon so extensive 
a line of our settlements inhabited by a numerous, warlike and well-armed 
race . . ." (Abert to Sec. of War, DNA-77, LS, 3:399-400). Thus the Bureau 
of Topographical Engineers began to maneuver for the authority which 
would send JCF to the Rockies in 1842. 

18. J. J. Abert to Joseph N. Nicollet 

Bureau of Topi Engins. 
Washington, Mrch 4th 1839 

I am directed by the Hon. Secretary of War to inform you that 
your plan of operations for the ensuing year as indicated in your let- 
ter of the 9th Jany. to Lt. Fremont is fully approved. Arrangements 
to make the same effectual have been adopted as you will be ap- 
prized by a letter of the 2d. instt. to Lt. Fremont sent open to you for 
your perusal. 

The circulars you desire to have from the commandg. general and 
from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs are herewith inclosed. 

J. J. Abert CI. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 3:100). The nature of the circulars Nicollet had asked 
for is not known. 


19. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington, March 5th 1839 

Before your departure with the expedition of the present year, you 
will transmit to the Bureau your accounts & vouchers to the time of 
your present expenditures, in order that the balances with which you 
stand charged may be reduced as much as possible, and in order to 
save from the hazard of the contemplated expedition the evidences 
of the expenditures which you have already made. 

In addition to the advice given in my letter of the 2d instt. in ref- 
erence to your accounts allow me also to advise that you provide 
yourself with full explanation of expenditures of an unusual kind, 
and correct statements of the circumstances under which presents 
are made to Indians that in all cases in which the discretionary au- 
thority of the Department has to be invoked in favour of a voucher 
every desirable explanation may be submitted to its consideration. 

J. J. Abert Cl. T. E. 

Lbk(DNA-77,LS, 3:101). 

20. Fremont to Henry H. Sibley 

St. Louis April 4th. 1839 
My Dear Sir 

We leave this place today in the steamboat Antelope for the Mis- 
souri River, intending if possible to be at Lac qui Parle by the end of 
June where Mr. Nicollet requests me to say, he shall be most happy 
to see you. 

He intends proceeding from that place directly to Devil's Lake. 
Our party will be composed of the same persons as last year with the 
exception of Mr. Flandin who came with us as far as St. Louis but 
left us there having a fine opportunity of going to Europe where he 
may spend some few years.^ 


We have left in charge of Messrs. P. Chouteau & Co. a case di- 
rected to you in which you will find two Boxes of Cigars, which we 
send you to smoke with your friends, as I have heard of no steam- 
boat going up your way & suppose you must be in want of Cigars — 
also a small Box directed to J. Renville at Lac qui Parle. All the 
gentlemen of our party unite in tending you their warmest remem- 
brances & hope to see you in July at Renvilles. You must not fail to 
come — previously to that time you will hear from us again in which 
we will be able to fix a more definite period. Very Respy. yr. obt. 


C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (MnHi— Sibley Papers). Addressed to Sibley at Fort Snelling. 

1. If Flandin did go to Europe, he had returned by 1843, for in that year he 
was in his father's New York store furnishing foodstuffs to JCF for his second 
western expedition (DNA-217, T-135, voucher no. 2, 3 March 1843). 

21. George M. Brooke to Fremont 

Fort Crawford April 4th 1839. 
My Dear Sir 

I had the pleasure, to receive, this morning, your letter of the 19th 
Ultimo, and have sent the things by the [Lamden?] accordingly, 
and hope they may arrive in time. I have enclosed the bill of lading, 
in this letter, as it is sent by a friend of mine, who will put it in the 
post office, as I do not know, at what house you may lodge. I am 
sorry to say, that I did not succeed, in the transfer of Lt. [?], and of 
course, that we have been deprived of their society. I regret to in- 
form you, of the death of Capt. Lacey^ on the 1st Inst. 

We have been well enough, this winter, no visitors & very little 

Please make my best regards to Mr. Nicollet, and the Gentlemen, 
with you. Wishing you all, a pleasant, and safe tour I remain very 
much yr. friend, 

Geo. M. Brooke 

ALS, RC (CU-B — Fremont Papers). Addressed, "For Lt. C. Fremont, to the 
care of Pratte & Chouteau, St. Louis" with the added notation, "Favd. by Mr. 


W. Wright." Wright operated a ferry across the Wisconsin near Prairie du 
Chien. Brig.-Gen. George M. Brooke, who was to sit on the court-martial 
board which tried JCF in 1847-48, was at this time commanding Fort Craw- 
ford, the military post at Prairie du Chien. He may have met the young lieu- 
tenant in 1838, when the Nicollet expedition stopped at his post, although he 
was absent from the fort during the spring of 1838 and again in November 
when JCF was there (mahan, 218-19). 

1. Capt. Edgar Martin Lacey, 5th Infantry, commanded Fort Crawford in 
Nov. 1838 while General Brooke was absent (mahan, 332). He died 2 April 
1839, according to heitman. 

22. Excerpt from the Memoirs 


A partial equipment for the expedition to the northwest prairies 
was obtained in St. Louis. Arrangements had previously been made 
at Lac qui parle, during the preceding journey, for a reinforcement 
of men to meet the party at an appointed time on Riviere a Jacques 
[James River], a tributary to the Missouri River, At St. Louis five 
men were engaged, four of them experienced in prairie and moun- 
tain travel; one of them Etienne Provost, known as Vhomme des 
montagnes. The other man was Louis Zindel, who had seen service 
as a non-commissioned officer of Prussian artillery, and was skilled 
in making rockets and fireworks.^ We left St. Louis early in April, 
1839, on board the Antelope, one of the American Fur Company's 
steamboats, which, taking its customary advantage of the annual rise 
in the Missouri from the snows of the Rocky Mountains, was about 
starting on its regular voyage to the trading-post on the upper waters 
of the river.^ 

For nearly two months and a half we were struggling against the 
current of the turbid river, which in that season of high waters was 
so swift and strong that sometimes the boat would for moments 
stand quite still, seeming to pause to gather strength, until the power 
of steam asserted itself and she would fight her way into a smooth 
reach. In places the river was so embarrassed with snags that it was 
difficult to thread a way among them in face of the swift current and 
treacherous channel, constantly changing. Under these obstacles we 
usually laid up at night, making fast to the shore at some convenient 
place, where the crew could cut a supply of wood for the next day. It 


was a pleasant journey, as little disturbed as on the ocean. Once 
above the settlements of the lower Missouri, there were no sounds to 
disturb the stillness but the echoes of the high-pressure steam-pipe, 
which travelled far along and around the shores, and the incessant 
crumbling away of the banks and bars, which the river was steadily 
undermining and destroying at one place to build up at another. 
The stillness was an impressive feature, and the constant change in 
the character of the river shores offered always new interest as we 
steamed along. At times we travelled by high perpendicular escarp- 
ments of light colored rock, a gray and yellow marl, made pictur- 
esque by shrubbery or trees; at others the river opened out into a 
broad delta-like expanse, as if it were approaching the sea. At 
length, on the seventieth day we reached Fort Pierre, the chief post 
of the American Fur Company.'^ This is on the right or western bank 
of the river, about one thousand and three hundred miles from St. 
Louis. On the prairie, a few miles away, was a large village of Yank- 
ton Sioux. Here we were in the heart of the Indian country and near 
the great Buffalo ranges. Here the Indians were sovereign. 

This was to be our starting-point for an expedition northward 
over the great prairies, to the British line. Some weeks were spent 
in making the remaining preparations, in establishing the position 
and writing up journals, and in negotiations with the Indians. After 
the usual courtesies had been exchanged our first visit to their vil- 
lage was arranged. On our way we were met by thirty of the prin- 
cipal chiefs, mounted and advancing in line. A noble-looking set of 
men showing to the best advantage, their fine shoulders and breasts 
being partly uncovered. We were conducted by them to the village, 
where we were received with great ceremony by other chiefs, and all 
their people gathered to meet us. We were taken into a large and 
handsome lodge and given something to eat, an observance with- 
out which no Indian welcome is complete. The village covered some 
acres of ground, and the lodges were pitched in regular lines. These 
were large, of about twenty skins or more. The girls were noticeably 
well clothed, wearing finely dressed skins nearly white, much em- 
broidered with beads and porcupine quills dyed many colors; and 
stufifs from the trading-post completed their dress. These were the 
best formed and best looking Indians of the plains, having the free 
bearing belonging with their unrestrained life in sunshine and open 
air. Their mode of life had given them the uniform and smooth de- 
velopment of breast and limb which indicates power, without knots 


of exaggerated muscle, and the copper-bronze of their skins, burnt 
in by many suns, increased the statue-hke effect. The buffalo and 
other game being near, gave them abundant food and means to ob- 
tain from the trading-post what to them were luxuries. 

Having made the customary and expected presents which ratified 
the covenants of good will and free passage over their country, we 
left the village, escorted half-way by the chiefs. 

A few days after our visit to the village, one of the chiefs came to 
the fort, bringing with him a pretty girl of about eighteen, hand- 
somely dressed after the manner I have described. Accompanied by 
her and the interpreter, he came to the room opening on the court 
where we were employed over our sketch-books and maps, and 
formally offered her to Mr. Nicollet as a wife for him. This placed 
our chief for a moment in an embarrassing position. But, with ready 
and crafty tact he explained to the chief that he already had one, and 
that the Great Father would not permit him to have two. At the 
same time suggesting that the younger chief, designating me, had 
none. This put me in a worse situation. But being at bay, I promptly 
replied that I was going far away and not coming back, and did not 
like to take the girl away from her people; that it might bring bad 
luck; but that I was greatly pleased with the offer, and to show that 
I was so, would give the girl a suitable present. Accordingly, an at- 
tractive package of scarlet and blue cloths, beads, a mirror, and other 
trifles was made up, and they left us; the girl quite satisfied with her 
trousseau, and he with other suitable presents made him. Meantime 
we had been interested by the composure of the girl's manner, who 
during the proceedings had been quietly leaning against the door- 
post, apparently not ill-pleased with the matrimonial conference. 

All was now ready. The rating of the chronometers had been veri- 
fied. Our observations had placed Fort Pierre in latitude, 44° 23' 28'', 
longitude, 100° 12' 30", and elevation above the sea 1456 feet. Horses, 
carts, and provisions had been obtained at the fort and six men 
added to the party; Mr. May, of Kentucky, and a young man from 
Pembinah had joined us. They were on their way to the British 
Colony of the Red River of the North. William Dixon and Louison 
Freniere had been engaged as interpreters and guides. Both of these 
were half-breeds, well known as fine horsemen and famous hunters, 
as well as most experienced guides. The party now consisted of nine- 
teen persons, thirty-three horses, and ten carts. With Mr. Nicollet, 
Mr. Geyer, who was again our botanist, and myself, was an officer of 


the French army, Captain BelUgny, who wished to use so good an oc- 
casion to see the Indian country/ We reached the eastern shore with 
all our equipage in good order, and made camp for the night at the 
foot of the river hills opposite the fort. The hills leading to the prai- 
rie plateau, about five hundred feet above the river, were rough and 
broken into ravines. We had barely reached the upland when the 
hunters came galloping in, and the shout of la vac he! la vachel rang 
through the camp, everyone repeating it, and everyone excited. 

A herd of buffalo had been discovered, coming down to water. In 
a few moments the buffalo horses were saddled and the hunters 
mounted, each with a smooth-bore, single or double-barrelled gun, 
a handkerchief bound fillet-like around the head, and all in the 
scantiest clothing. Conspicuous among them were Dixon and Lou- 
ison. To this latter I then, and thereafter, attached myself. 

My horse was a good one, an American, but grass-fed and prairie- 
bred. Whether he had gained his experience among the whites or 
Indians I do not know, but he was a good hunter and knew about 
buffalo, and badger holes as well, and when he did get his foot into 
one it was not his fault. 

Now I was to see the buffalo. This was an event on which my 
imagination had been dwelling. I was about to realize the tales the 
mere telling of which was enough to warm the taciturn Renville 
into enthusiastic expression, and to rouse all the hunter in the ex- 
citable Freniere. 

The prairie over which we rode was rolling, and we were able to 
keep well to leeward and out of sight of the herd. Riding silently up 
a short slope, we came directly upon them. Not a hundred yards be- 
low us was the great, compact mass of animals, moving slowly 
along, feeding as they went, and making the loud incessant grunt- 
ing noise peculiar to them. There they were. 

The moment's pause that we made on the summit of the slope 
was enough to put the herd in motion. Instantly as we rose the hill, 
they saw us. There was a sudden halt, a confused wavering move- 
ment, and then a headlong rout; the hunters in their midst. How I 
got down that short hillside I never knew. From the moment I saw 
the herd I never saw the ground again until all was over. I remem- 
ber, as the charge was made, seeing the bulls in the rear turn, then 
take a few bounds forward, and then, turning for a last look, join 
the headlong flight. 

As they broke into the herd the hunters separated. For some in- 


stants I saw them as they showed through the clouds of dust, but I 
scarcely noticed them. I was finding out what it was to be a prairie 
hunter. We were only some few miles from the river, hardly clear of 
the breaks of the hills, and in places the ground still rough. But the 
only things visible to me in our flying course were the buffalo and 
the dust, and there was tumult in my breast as well as around me. 
I made repeated ineffectual attempts to steady myself for a shot at a 
cow after a hard struggle to get up with her; and each time barely 
escaped a fall. In such work a man must be able to forget his horse, 
but my horsemanship was not yet equal to such a proof. At the out- 
set, when the hunters had searched over the herd and singled out 
each his fattest cow, and made his dash upon her, the herd broke 
into bands which spread over the plain. I clung to that where I 
found myself, unwilling to give up, until I found that neither horse 
nor man could bear the strain longer. Only some straggling groups 
were in sight, loping slowly off, seemingly conscious that the chase 
was over. I dismounted and reloaded, and sat down on the grass for 
a while to give us both a rest. I could nowhere see any of my com- 
panions, and, except that it lay somewhere to the south of where I 
was, I had no idea where to look for the camp. The sun was getting 
low, and I decided to ride directly west, thinking that I might reach 
the river hills above the fort while there was light enough for me to 
find our trail of the morning. In this way I could not miss the camp, 
but for the time being I was lost. 

My horse was tired and I rode slowly. He was to be my compan- 
ion and reliance in a long journey, and I would not press him. The 
sun went down, and there was no sign that the river was near. 
While it was still light an antelope came circling round me, but I 
would not fire at him. His appearance and strange conduct seemed 
uncanny but companionable, and the echo to my gun might not be a 
pleasant one. Long after dark I struck upon a great number of paths, 
deeply worn, and running along together in a broad roadway. They 
were leading directly toward the river, and I supposed, to the fort. 
With my anxieties all relieved I was walking contentedly along, 
when I suddenly recognized that these were buffalo-trails leading to 
some accustomed great watering-place. The discovery was some- 
thing of a shock, but I gathered myself together and walked on. I 
had been for some time leading my horse. Toward midnight I 
reached the breaks of the river hills at a wooded ravine, and just 
then I saw a rocket shoot up into the sky, far away to the south. 


That was camp, but apparently some fifteen miles distant, impossible 
for me to reach by the rough way in the night around the ravines. 
So I led my horse to the brink of the ravine, and going down I 
found water, which, a plusieurs reprises, I brought up to him, using 
my straw hat for a bucket. Taking off his saddle and bridle, and 
fastening him by his long lariat to one of the stirrups, I made a pil- 
low of the saddle and slept soundly until morning. He did not dis- 
turb me much, giving an occasional jerk to my pillow, just enough 
to let me see that all was right. 

At the first streak of dawn I saddled up. I had laid my gun by 
my side in the direction where I had seen the rocket, and riding 
along that way, the morning was not far advanced when I saw three 
men riding toward me at speed. They did not slacken their pace 
until they came directly up against me, when the foremost touched 
me. It was Louison Freniere. A reward had been promised by Mr. 
Nicollet to the first who should touch me, and Louison won it. And 
this was the end of my first buffalo hunt. 

The camp gathered around all glad to see me. To be lost on the 
prairie in an Indian country is a serious accident, involving many 
chances, and no one was disposed to treat it lightly. Our party was 
made up of men experienced in prairie and in mountain travel, ex- 
posed always to unforeseen incidents. 

When Freniere left the camp in search of me he had no hesitation 
about where to look. In the rolling country over which the hunt lay 
it would have been merely an accident to find either camp or water. 
He knew I would not venture the chance, but would strike directly 
for the river; and so in leaving camp he kept the open ground along 
the heads of the ravines, confident that he would either find me or 
my trail. He was sure I would remain on the open ground at the 
first water I found. He knew, too, as I did not, that from the Fort 
the valley of the river trended to the northwest, by this increasing 
the distance I had to travel; still farther increased by a large bend in 
which the river sweeps ofT to the westward. On the maps in com- 
mon use it was nearly north and south, and had it really been so in 
fact I should have reached the breaks while it was still light enough 
for me to see the Fort or recognize our crossing-place, and perhaps 
to find my way to the camp. All the same I had made an experience 
and it had ended well. 

The camp equipage being carried in carts, and not packed upon 
mules, the gearing up was quickly done; but meanwhile I had time 


for a fine piece of fat buffalo-meat standing already roasted on a 
stick before the fire, and a tin cup of good coffee. My horse and I did 
a fair share of walking on this day's march, and at every unusually 
good spot of grass I took the bit from his mouth and let him have 
the chance to recruit from the night before. 

We were now on the upland of the Coteau du Missouri, here 1,960 
feet above the sea. Travelling to the northeastward our camp for the 
night was made by a fork of the Medicine Bow River [Medicine 
Creek], the last running water our line would cross until we should 
reach the waters of the Riviere a Jacques on the eastern slopes of the 
plateau. On the open plains water is found only in ponds; not al- 
ways permanent, and not frequent. 

From the top of the hill [Medicine Butte] which gives its name 
to the stream where we had encamped the view was over great 
stretches of level prairie, fading into the distant horizon, and un- 
broken except by the many herds of buffalo which made on it dark 
spots that looked like groves of timber; here and there puffs of dust 
rising from where the bulls were rolling or fighting. On these high 
plains the buffalo feed contentedly, and good buffalo grass usually 
marks the range where they are found. The occasional ponds give 
them water, and, for them, the rivers are never far away. 

This was the Fourth of July.^ I doubt if any boy in the country 
found more joy in his fireworks than I did in my midnight rocket 
with its silent message. Water and wood to-night were abundant, 
and with plenty in camp and buffalo all around we celebrated our 
independence of the outside world. 

Some days were now occupied in making the crossing of the pla- 
teau; our line being fixed by astronomical positions, and the level 
prairie required no sketching. I spent these days with Freniere 
among the buffalo. Sometimes when we had gotten too far ahead of 
our caravan it was an enjoyment to lie in careless ease on the grass 
by a pond and be refreshed by the breeze which carried with it the 
fragrance of the prairie. Edged with grasses growing into the clear 
water, and making a fresh border around them, these resting-spots 
are rather lakelets than ponds. 

The grand simplicity of the prairie is its peculiar beauty, and its 
occurring events are peculiar and of their own kind. The uniformity 
is never sameness, and in his exhilaration the voyager feels even the 
occasional field of red grass waving in the breeze pleasant to his eye. 


And whatever the object may be — whether horseman, or antelope, 
or buffalo — that breaks the distant outline of the prairie, the sur- 
rounding circumstances are of necessity always such as to give it a 
special interest. The horseman may prove to be enemy or friend, but 
the always existing uncertainty has its charm of excitement in the 
one case, and the joy of the chase in the other. There is always the 
suspense of the interval needed to verify the strange object; and, 
long before the common man decides anything, the practised eye 
has reached certainty. This was the kind of lore in which Freniere 
was skilled, and with him my prairie education was continued 
under a master. He was a reckless rider. Never troubling himself 
about impediments, if the shortest way after his buffalo led through 
a pond through it he plunged. Going after a band on one of these 
days we came upon a long stretch of shallow pond that we had not 
seen, and which was thickly sown with boulders half hidden in tall 
grass and water. As I started to go around he shouted, "In there — in! 
Tout droit! faut pas craindre le cheval." And in we went, flounder- 
ing through, happily without breaking bones of ourselves or our 
horses. It was not the horse that I was afraid of; I did not like that 
bed of rocks and water. 

Crossing the summit level of the plateau we came in sight of the 
beautiful valley, here about seventy miles broad, of the Riviere a 
Jacques, its scattered wooded line stretching as far as the eye could 
reach. Descending the slope we saw in the distance ahead moving 
objects, soon recognized as horsemen; and before these could reach 
us a clump of lodges came into view. They proved to be the encamp- 
ment of about a hundred Indians, to whom Dixon and Freniere 
were known as traders of the Fur Company. After an exchange of 
friendly greetings our camp was pitched near by. Such a rare meet- 
ing is an exciting break in the uneventful Indian life; and the mak- 
ing of presents gave a lively expression to the good feeling with 
which they received us, and was followed by the usual Indian re- 
joicing. After a conference in which our line of travel was indicated, 
the chief offered Mr. Nicollet an escort, the country being uncertain, 
but the offer was declined. The rendezvous for our expected rein- 
forcement was not far away, and Indians with us might only prove 
the occasion for an attack in the event of meeting an unfriendly 
band. They had plenty of good buffalo-meat and the squaws had 
gathered in a quantity of the pommes des prairies, or prairie turnips 


{Psoralia esculenta), which is their chief vegetable food, and abun- 
dant on the prairie. They sHce and dry this for ordinary and winter 

Travelhng down the slope of the coteau, in a descent of 750 feet 
we reached the lake of "The Scattered Small Wood," a handsome 
but deceptive bit of water, agreeable to the eye, but with an unpleas- 
ant brackish taste. 

About two years ago I received a letter, making of me some in- 
quiries concerning this beautiful lake country of the Northwest. 
In writing now of the region over which I had travelled, I propose 
to speak of it as I had seen it, preserving as far as possible its local 
coloring of the time; shutting out what I may have seen or learned 
of the changes years have wrought. But, since the time of which I 
am writing, I have not seen this country. Looking over it, in the 
solitude where I left it, its broad valleys and great plains untenanted 
as I saw and describe them, I think that the curiosity and interest 
with which I read this letter, will also be felt by any who accompany 
me along these pages. Under this impression, and because the writer 
of the letter had followed our trail to this point — the "Lake of the 
Scattered Small Wood" — I give it here: 

"lowA City, Ia., February 13, 1884. 
.... "This I write feeling that as you have devoted your life to 
engineering and scientific pursuits, it will be at least a gratification 
to receive a letter upon such subjects as are connected with what you 
have done. It has been my fortune to locate and construct railway 
lines for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway in Minnesota and 
Dakota, in doing which I have surveyed not less than three thou- 
sand miles of line, and in so doing have passed over a very large extent 
of the surface of that region. While doing this work I have been led 
to inquire into the climate of that remarkable region. I visited many 
places which you in 1838 discovered and named. Among these are 
Lakes Benton and Hendricks, the first about twenty miles north of 
the famous 'Red Pipe Stone Quarry,' a very fine sheet of water, 
along the south shore of which I located the railroad, and there has 
sprung up a fine town called Lake Benton. West of this, in Dakota, 
and on the west side of the Big Sioux River, is a lake region, to 
many of the lakes in which you gave names, and it is to this locality 
that I wish to particularly call your attention. These lakes bear the 
names of Thompson, Whitewood, Preston, Te-tonka-ha, Abert 


(now changed to Albert), Poinsett, and Kampeska. The last named 
is at the head of the Big Sioux, and Poinsett a few miles to the south- 

"When I constructed the Dakota Central Railway in 1879-80, all 
these lakes excepting Thompson, Poinsett, and Kampeska, were dry; 
and it took me a long time and no small research to ascertain when 
they last held water. They had been known to be dry for the twenty- 
five years preceding 1879, or at least persons who had lived there or in 
the vicinity for twenty-five years said that the lakes were dry when 
they came into the locality, and had, with numerous smaller ones, 
been dry ever since; and all who knew about them had a theory 
that they had dried up long since, and that they never would fill 
again ; but I found old Frenchmen who had seen these lakes full of 
water in 1843-46, and I, in studying over the matter, found that you 
had seen and named them in 1836-38 [1838-39], and I would thank 
you very much if you will take the time and trouble to describe them 
to me as you saw them then. 

"I came very near locating the railroad line through Lake Preston, 
for the head men of the railroad company believed that it had dried 
up for all time; but on my presenting the testimony of certain reli- 
able voyageurs, they allowed me to go around it. It was well that 
they did, for the winter of 1880-81 gave a snow-fall such as had not 
been seen since the years 1843-44, and in the spring of 1881 all these 
lakes filled up, bank full, and have continued so ever since. I had the 
pleasure of comparing my engineer's levels for elevation above the 
sea with your barometer determination at Fort Pierre on the Mis- 
souri River. Your altitude was 1,450 feet, mine was 1,437, the differ- 
ence 13 feet. My determination is within the limits of — 6 feet. 
The distance over which my levels were taken was 680 miles, 
and were well checked. I also followed up your trail as you marched 
from Fort Pierre northeasterly to the 'Scattered Small Wood Lake.' 
I was so successful as to verify your barometer reading in several in- 
stances by checking with mine, and in no case found over 15 feet 
difference between us, and that always in the same relation as at 
Fort Pierre. Hoping that you will excuse this long letter, and that 
you may be able to tell me if those lakes were dry when you saw 
them, or otherwise, and add any other information you see fit, 

"I am, truly yours, 

"C. W. Irish,' C. E. " 


The next day we reached the Riviere a Jacques, at the Talle de 
Chenes, a clump of oaks which was the rendezvous where our ex- 
pected reinforcement was to meet us. The river valley here is about 
seventy miles wide. Observations made during the four days that 
we remained at the Talle de Chenes place it in latitude 45° 16' 34'", 
longitude 98° 7 45", and the elevation above the sea 1,341 feet. At 
the end of this time, no one appearing, the party again took up the 
line of march, and, following the right bank, on the evening of the 
14th encamped near the mouth of Elm River. This river and its 
forks are well timbered, and for the reason that they furnish lire- 
wood and shelter, Indian hunting parties make it their winter cross- 
ing-place on the way westward after buffalo on the Missouri plateau. 

On the high plains the winter storms are dangerous. Many tales 
are told of hunters caught out in a poudrerie with no timber near, 
when it is impossible to see one's way, and every landmark is oblit- 
erated or hidden by the driving snow. At such times the hunter 
has no other resource than to dig for himself a hole in the snow, 
leaving only a breathing-place above his head, and to remain in it 
wrapped in his blankets until the storm passes over; when, putting 
on the dry socks and moccasins which he always carries, he makes 
for the nearest wood. 

The bufifalo herds, when caught in such storms and no timber in 
sight, huddle together in compact masses, all on the outside crowd- 
ing and fighting to get to the inside; and so, kept warm by the 
struggling, incessant motion, the snow meanwhile being stamped 
away under their feet, protect themselves from the fiercest storms. 

For several days we travelled up the valley of the Jacques, making 
astronomical stations, and collecting material for Mr. Nicollet's 
map. Occasionally, to the same end, I was detached, with Dixon or 
Freniere, on topographical excursions, which gave me a good gen- 
eral knowledge of the country along the route. At the Butte aux Os 
(Bone Hill), in latitude 46° 2/37", longitude 98° 8' elevation above 
the sea 1,400 feet, we left the Riviere a Jacques, or Chaii-sansan , its 
valley extending apparently far in a course to west of north, and in 
a few miles we reached the height of land which separates it from 
the Shayen [Sheyenne] River. This is a tributary to the Red River 
of the North, and was formerly the home of the Shayens, to-day 
written Cheyennes. In the incessant wars between the various tribes 
of this region the Shayens were driven from their country over the 
Missouri River south to where they now are. 


The summit of the plateau was only 1,460 feet above the sea. Here 
we regained the great prairie plains, and here we saw in their mag- 
nificent multitudes the grand buffalo herds on their chief range. 
They were moving southwestwardly, apparently toward the plains 
of the upper Missouri. For three days we were in their midst, travel- 
ling through them by day and surrounded by them at night. We 
could not avoid them. Evidently some disturbing cause had set them 
in motion from the north. It was necessary to hobble some of our 
animals and picket them all, and keep them close in to prevent any 
of them from making off with the buffalo, when they would have 
been irretrievably lost. Working through the herds it was decided, 
in order to get more out of their way, to make a temporary halt for 
a day or two on the Tampa, a small stream flowing into the Shayen. 
On the second day after, Dixon and Freniere came in with three 
Indians from a party which had been reconnoitring our camp. They 
belonged to a hunting village of some three hundred lodges, who 
were out making buffalo-meat and were just about arranging for a 
grand "surround." It would have been dangerous to risk breaking 
in upon this, as might easily happen in our ignorance of the locality 
and their plans. To avert mischief Freniere, on the third day, rode 
over to the village with a message requesting their chiefs to indicate 
the time and route for our march. In consequence we were invited 
to come on to their encampment. Pushing our way through the 
crowds of buffalo, we were met in the afternoon by two of the chiefs 
who escorted us to the village and pointed out the place for our 
camp. We found the encampment made up of about three hundred 
lodges of various tribes — Yanktons, Yankton [ais], and Sissitons — 
making about two thousand Indians. 

The representations of our guides had insured us a most friendly 
reception. We were invited to eat in the lodges of different chiefs; 
the choicest, fattest pieces of buffalo provided for us, and in return 
they were invited to eat at our camp. The chiefs sat around in a 
large circle on buffalo robes or blankets, each provided with a deep 
soup plate and spoon of tin. The first dish was a generous pot-au-feu, 
principally of fat bufl^alo meat and rice. No one would begin until 
all the plates were filled. When all was ready the feast began. With 
the first mouthful each Indian silently laid down his spoon, and 
each looked at the other. After a pause of bewilderment the inter- 
preter succeeded in having the situation understood. Mr. Nicollet 
had put among our provisions some Swiss cheese, and to give flavor 


to the soup a liberal portion of this had been put into the kettles. 
Until this strange flavor was accounted for the Indians thought they 
were being poisoned; but, the cheese being shown to them, and ex- 
planation made, confidence was restored; and by the aid of several 
kettles of water well sweetened with molasses, and such other tempt- 
ing delicatessen as could be produced from our stores, the dinner 
party went on and terminated in great good humor and general 

The next day they made their surround. This was their great 
summer hunt when a provision of meat was made for the year, the 
winter hunting being in smaller parties. The meat of many fat cows 
was brought in, and the low scaffolds on which it was laid to be sun- 
dried were scattered over all the encampment. No such occasion as 
this was to be found for the use of presents, and the liberal gifts dis- 
tributed through the village heightened their enjoyment of the feast- 
ing and dancing, which was prolonged through the night. Friendly 
relations established, we continued our journey. 

Having laid down the course of the river by astronomical stations, 
during three days' travel; we crossed to the left bank and directed 
our road toward the Devil's Lake, which was the ultimate object of 
the expedition. The Indian name of the lake is Mini-wakan, the En- 
chanted Water; converted by the whites into Devil's Lake. 

Our observations placed the river where we left it in latitude 47 
46' 29", longitude 98° 13' 30", and elevation above the sea 1,328 feet; 
the level of the bordering plateaus being about one hundred and 
sixty feet above the river. 

In our journey along this river, mosquitoes had infested the camp 
in such swarms and such pertinacity that the animals would quit 
feeding and come up to the fires to shelter themselves in the smoke. 
So virulent were they that to eat in any quiet was impossible, and we 
found it necessary to use the long green veils, which to this end had 
been recommended to us by the fur traders. Tied around our straw 
hats the brims kept the veils from our faces, making a space within 
which the plates could be held; and behind these screens we con- 
trived to eat without having the food uncomfortably flavored by 
mosquito sauce piquante. 

After a short day's march of fourteen miles we made our first 
camp on this famous war and hunting ground, four miles from the 
Mini-wa\an. Early in the day's march we had caught sight of the 
woods and hills bordering the lake, among them being conspicuous 


a heart-shaped hill near the southern shore. The next day after an 
hour's march we pitched our camp at the head of a deep bay not far 
from this hill. To this the Indians have given the name of the 
"Heart of the Enchanted Water',' by the v^^hites translated "Heart of 
the Devil's Lake." 

At a wooden lake of fresh water near last night's camp on the 
plateau we had found traces of a large encampment which had been 
recently abandoned. The much-trodden ground and trails all round 
showed that a large party had been here for several weeks. From 
many cart-wheel tracks and other signs our guides recognized it as 
a hunting camp of the Metis, or Bois-Brules, of the Red River of the 
North; and the deep ruts cut by the wheels showed that the carts 
had received their full load, and that the great hunt of the year was 
over. It was this continuous and widespread hunt that had put in 
motion the great herds through which we had passed. 

Among other interesting features of the northwest we had heard 
much from our guides about these people and their buffalo hunts; 
and to have just missed them by a few days only was quite a dis- 

The home of the Half-breeds is at Pembina in British North 
America. They are called indifferently Metis or Half-breeds, Bois- 
Brules, and Gens litres or Free People of the North. The Half- 
breeds themselves are in greater part the descendants of French 
Canadian traders and others who, in the service of the Fur Com- 
pany, and principally of the Northwest Company of Montreal, had 
been stationed at their remote forts, or scattered over the northwest 
Indian country in gathering furs. These usually took local wives 
from among the Indian women of the different tribes, and their 
half Indian children grew up to a natural life of hunting and kin- 
dred pursuits, in which their instincts gave them unusual skill. 

The Canadian engages of the company who had remained in the 
country after their term of service had expired were called Free 
Canadians; and, from their association with the Half-breeds came 
also the name of Gens litres. They were prominently concerned in a 
singular event which occurred in British America about a quarter of 
a century before the time of which I am writing. In the rivalry be- 
tween the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Fur and 
Trading Company of Montreal, the Half-breeds were used by the 
Northwest Company in their successful attempts to destroy a Scotch 
colony which had been planted by the Earl of Selkirk^ on the Red 


River of the North at its confluence with the Assiniboine, about 
forty miles above Lake Winnipeg. The colony was founded upon a 
grant of land made to the Earl by the Hudson's Bay Company in 
1811; and about a hundred immigrants were settled at the Forks in 
1812, reaching to some two hundred in 1814. This was called the 
Kildonan settlement, from a parish in the County of Sutherland 
which had been the home of the immigrants. In August of 1815 it was 
entirely broken up by the Northwest Company, and the settlers 
driven away and dispersed. During the following winter and spring 
the colony was re-established, and in prosperous condition when it was 
attacked by a force of Half-breeds, under officers of the Northwest 
Company, and some twenty unresisting persons killed; includ- 
ing Mr. [Robert] Semple, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany and five of his officers. In the course of this contest there were 
acts of a savage brutality, not repugnant, perhaps, to the usages of 
the Indian country where they were perpetrated, but unknown 
among civilized men. The opposition made to the colony by the 
Northwest Company was for the declared reason that "Colonization 
was unfavorable to the Fur Trade:" their policy was to hold the 
great part of a continent as a game preserve for the benefit solely of 
their trade. 

The colony was revived when the Northwest was merged in the 
Hudson's Bay Company, and reoccupied its old site at the Forks of 
Red River; the settlements extending gradually southward along 
the banks of the river. The grants of land which had been made to 
the colonists by the Earl of Selkirk held good under the general 
grant made to him by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1811, and have 
been so maintained. 

Meantime the Half-breeds had been increasing in number; and, 
as the buffalo have receded before the settlements in British America, 
they made their hunting expeditions to the plains around the Devil's 
Lake. With them, the two important events of the year are the 
buffalo hunts which they come to these plains to make. They bring 
with them carts built to carry each the meat of ten buffalo, which 
they make into pemmican. This consists of the meat dried by fire or 
sun, coarsely pounded and mixed with melted fat, and packed into 
skin sacks. It is of two qualities; the ordinary pemmican of com- 
merce, being the meat without selection, and the finer, in small 
sacks, consisting of the choicest parts kneaded up with the marrow. 


Buffalo tongues, pemmican, and robes, constitute chiefly their trade 
and support. 

When making their hunts the party is usually divided; one-half 
to hunt, the other to guard the camp. Years ago they were much 
harassed by the Indians of the various tribes who frequented these 
buffalo grounds as much to fight as to hunt. But as a result of these 
conflicts with the Half-breeds the Indians were always obliged to go 
into mourning; and gradually they had learned to fight shy of these 
people and of late years had ceased to molest them. They are good 
shots and good riders, and have a prairie-wide reputation for skill 
in hunting and bravery in fighting. 

We remained on the Devil's Lake over a week, during which 
three stations were made along the southern shore, giving for the 
most northern latitude 47° 59^ 29", and for longitude 98° 28'. Our ba- 
rometer gave for the top of the "Enchanted Hill" 1,766 feet above 
the sea, for the plateau 1,486 feet, and for the lake 1,476 feet. It is a 
beautiful sheet of water, the shores being broken into pleasing ir- 
regularity by promontories and many islands. As in some other 
lakes on the plateau, the water is brackish, but there are fish in it; 
and it is doubtless much freshened by the rains and melting snows of 
the spring. No outlet was found, but at the southern end there are low 
grounds by which at the season of high waters the lake may discharge 
into the Shayen River. This would put it among the sources of the Red 
River. The most extended view of its waters obtainable from any 
of the surrounding hills seemed to reach about forty miles in a 
northwesterly direction. Accompanied by Dixon or Freniere, I was 
sent off on several detached excursions to make out what I could of 
the shape and size of the lake. On one of these I went for a day's 
journey along the western shore, but was unable in the limited time 
to carry my work to the northern end. Toward nightfall we found 
near the shore good water and made there our camp in open 
ground. Nothing disturbed our rest for several hours, when we 
were roused by a confused heavy trampling and the usual grunting 
sounds which announced buffalo. We had barely time to get our 
animals close in and to throw on dry wood and stir up the fire be- 
fore the herd was upon us. They were coming to the lake for water, 
and the near ones being crowded forward by those in the rear and 
disregarding us, they were nigh going directly over us. By shouting 
and firing our pieces, we succeeded in getting them to make a little 


space, in which they kept us as they crowded down into the lake. 
The brackish, salty water, is what these animals like, and to turn the 
course of such a herd from water at night would be impossible. 

Unwieldy as he looks, the buffalo bull moves with a suddenness 
and alertness that make him at close quarters a dangerous antago- 
nist. Freniere and I being together one day, we discovered a bull 
standing in the water of a little lake near the shore, and we rode up 
to see what he was doing there alone. "He may be sick," said 
Freniere. As we approached we noticed that he was watching us 
inquiringly, his head high up, with intention, as a bull in an arena. 
As we got abreast of him within a few yards, he made two or 
three quick steps toward us and paused. "Ohol bonjour camarade," 
Freniere called out, and moved his horse a little away. My attention 
for an instant was diverted to my riata, which was trailing, when the 
bull made a dash at us. I made an effort to get out of his range, but 
my horse appeared to think that it was in the order of proceeding 
for me first to fire. A rough graze to his hind quarters which stag- 
gered him made him see that the bull had decided to take this par- 
ticular affair into his own hands, or horns, and under the forcible 
impression he covered a rod or two of ground with surprising celer- 
ity; the bull meanwhile continuing his course across the prairie 
without even turning his head to look at us. Concluding that it was 
not desirable to follow up our brief acquaintance, we too continued 
our way. A good hunter does not kill merely for the sake of killing. 

The outward line of the expedition being closed, our route was 
now turned eastward across the plateau toward the valley of the Red 
River of the North. The first night was passed at a small fresh-water 
lake near the Lake of the Serpents, which is salt; and on August 7th 
we encamped again on the Shayen-oju. Continuing east, we crossed 
next day the height of land at an elevation of 1,500 feet above sea 
level, and a few miles farther came in view of the wide-spread valley 
of the Red River, its greea wooded line extending far away to the 
north on its way to British America. From this point, travelling 
southerly, a week was spent in sketching and determining positions 
among the head-waters of its tributaries; and on August 14th we 
descended again to the valley of the Shayen and recrossed that river 
at an elevation of 1,228 feet above the sea, its course not many 
miles below curving northeast to the Red River. Two days later we 
reached the Lake of the Four Hills, about a hundred feet above the 
river. This lake is near the foot of the ascent to the Reipahan, or 


Head of the Coteau des Prairies. We ascended the slope to the high- 
est point at the head of the Coteau, where the elevation was 2,000 
feet above the sea and the width of the Coteau about twenty miles. 
In its extension to the south it reaches, in about a hundred and fifty 
miles, a breadth of forty miles; sloping abruptly on the west to the 
great plains of the Riviere a Jacques, and on the east to the prairies 
of the Mini-sotah River. Here we spent several days in the basin of 
the beautiful lakes which make the head-waters of the Mini-sotah of 
the Mississippi River, and the Tchankasndata or Sioux River of the 
Missouri. The two groups of lakes are near together, occupying ap- 
parently the same basin, with a slight rise between; the Mini-sotah 
group being the northern. They lie in a depression or basin, from 
150 to 300 feet below the rim of the Coteau, full of clear living water, 
often partially wooded; and, having sometimes a sandy beach or 
shore strewed with boulders, they are singularly charming natural 
features. These were pleasant camping-grounds — wood was abun- 
dant, the water was good, and there were fish in the lakes. 

From the lake region we descended 800 or 900 feet to the lower 
prairies, and took up our march for the residence of our friends the 

Some well employed time was devoted here to make examinations 
of the Big Stone and other lakes, and to making observations and 
collecting materials to render Mr. Nicollet's projected map of this 
region as nearly complete as practicable. In all these excursions we 
had the effective aid of the Renvilles, whose familiar knowledge of 
the country enabled us to economize both labor and time. 

The autumn was far advanced when we took our leave of this 
post. That year the prairie flowers had been exceptional in lux- 
uriance and beauty. The rich lowlands near the house were radiant 
with asters and golden-rod, and memory chanced to associate these 
flowers, as the last thing seen, with the place. Since then I have not 
been in that country or seen the Renvilles; but still I never see the 
golden-rod and purple asters in handsome bloom, without thinking 
of that hospitable refuge on the far northern prairies. 

Some additional examinations on the water-shed of the Mini-sotah 
and along the Mississippi closed the labors of these expeditions; and 
at nightfall early in November I landed at Prairie du Chien in a 
bark canoe, with a detachment of our party.^ A steamboat at the 
landing was firing up and just about starting for St. Louis, but we 
thought it would be pleasant to rest a day or two and enjoy comfort- 


able quarters while waiting for the next boat. But the next boat 
was in the spring, for next morning it was snowing hard, and the 
river was frozen from bank to bank. I had time enough while there 
to learn two things: one, how to skate; the other, the value of a day. 
After some weeks of wagon journey through Illinois, in a severe 
winter, we reached St. Louis; when, after the party had been cared 
for, I went on to Washington to assist Mr. Nicollet in working up 
the material collected in the expeditions. 

MEMOIRS, 38-54. 

1. Etienne Provost (ca. 1782-1850), one of the best known of the mountain 
men of his time. His name is spelled many ways (as in Provo, Utah), and as 
he did not write, we do not know his preference. He was with the Chouteau- 
DeMun trading venture to the Rockies in 1815-17, exploiting the fur re- 
sources of the Platte and upper Arkansas rivers. A few years later he had 
moved to the Great Basin, and he has been credited with the discovery of 
Great Salt Lake — though men from the Hudson's Bay Company may have 
preceded him. He had contacts with William H. Ashley but was never associ- 
ated with him as a partner, and was employed by the American Fur Company 
for a number of years. He ascended the Missouri with John James Audubon 
in 1843. For biographies, see anderson, 343-51, and l. hafen [3], 6:371-85. 
Louis Zindel was a new immigrant when he signed on with Nicollet. Upon 
returning to St. Louis he opened a grocery store at 128 Market Street, but 
joined JCF again in 1843 for his expedition to California and Oregon. He 
made tents for the expedition of 1845 but did not join it, and later moved to 
Keokuk, Iowa, to continue in the grocery trade. From an examination of the 
vouchers, it seems probable that the other three men who signed on at St. 
Louis were Joseph Fournaise, Francois Latulippe, and Joseph Chartran. 

2. The Antelope was making her second voyage up the Missouri, having 
gone as far as Fort Union the previous year. But she drew too much water 
for the shallow reaches of the upper river, and on this trip she would fall 400 
miles short of her destination— Fort Union again (sunder, 21). Besides the 
Nicollet party, she carried fur company officials John F. A. Sanford, William 
Laidlaw, and James Kipp. The famed missionary, Father Pierre-Jean de 
Smet, would board at Council Bluffs to ride as far as the Vermillion River 
(NICOLLET, 41-42). A second vessel, the Pirate, which started up river ahead 
of the Antelope carrying supplies for the Nicollet party, struck a snag and 
sank a few miles below Council Bluffs. A chart of the river prepared by 
Nicollet and JCF, now in the Nicollet Papers, DLC, indicates the location of 
the wreck. 

3. At the present site of Pierre, S.D. While there is no journal of the voyage 
to this point, the large-scale charts of the river give a good account of the trip, 
as they show dates and places of encampment. 

4. The men mentioned by JCF include William F. P. May (ca. 1797-1855), 
an independent fur trader for more than thirty years on the upper Missouri, 
the Platte, and apparently in the Santa Fe trade ( Christopher & hafen). 
William Dickson, a son of fur trader Robert Dickson, served as an Indian 
interpreter among the Sioux at times, and in 1835 was in charge of an Ameri- 
can Fur Company post near the James River. JCF notes its location on the 


charts of the river in the DNA. Louison Freniere had been hired 10 July 
1838 by P. D. Papin as a clerk and interpreter. He was a Sioux half-breed, 
later to serve as interpreter for the upper Missouri agency. It is doubtful 
that Captain Belligny was on this expedition (see Doc. No. 5, note 2). 

5. Near Blunt, in Hughes County, S.D. The expedition will now strike off 
to the northeast, passing south of the Scatterwood Lakes in Faulk County, 
and reaching the James River 10 July. By 14 July they will reach Sand Lake 
in Brown County, cross into present North Dakota on 16 July, and two days 
later leave the James and strike out northeast toward the Sheyenne River. 
Then they will proceed northward, first along the Sheyenne and then over- 
land (passing a lake which they will name Lake Jessie when they eventually 
make their map) and arriving in the Devils Lake area of North Dakota on 
27 July. From here the party will head south again, following along the 
eastern side of the Coteau, to the headwaters of the Minnesota. The Nicollet 
map does not show dates or routes from this point, but JCF says the party 
visited again with the Renvilles at Lac qui Parle, investigating lakes in the 
area, and that the autumn was well advanced when they started down the Min- 
nesota for Fort Snelling. For detailed comment on the route in the Dakotas, 


6. Charles W. Irish (1834-1904), pioneer setder in Iowa City, not only 
surveyed and supervised the construction of many railroad lines, but also 
served under President Grover Cleveland as chief of the Bureau of Irrigation. 
He later became deputy mining surveyor of Nevada (see obituary notice, 
Annals of Iowa, ser. 3, 6 [1903-5] :639). 

7. Thomas Douglas, fifth Earl of Selkirk (1771-1820). 

8. Nicollet had reached Prairie du Chien before 14 Oct. and was expecting to 
descend the Mississippi with JCF, who would arrive in two or three days (Nicol- 
let to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Co., 14 Oct. 1839, MoSHi). The coming of winter, 
however, seems to have forced him to proceed to St. Louis without Fremont as he 
feared ice would close the river as it had in Nov. 1838 (see letters of Nicollet 
to Sibley, Washington, 26 April 1840, and Hercules L. Dousman to Sibley, 20 
Nov. 1838, MnHi— Sibley Papers). 

23. Financial Records, 1839 

[31 Dec. 1839] 

Quarter Ending 31 March 1839 

Voucher No. 1, Baltimore, 9 Feb. 1839 
U.S. to Brantz Mayer 

1 Troughton's reflecting circle and stand 150.00 

Brantz Mayer (1809-79), a Baltimore lawyer, historian, and one of the 
founders of the Maryland Historical Society. 


Voucher No. 2, New 


27 Feb. 1839 

U.S. to A. 



20 lbs Dresden chocolate 


1 boxes sardines 


1 Stilton cheese 


2 boxes Andoulettes 


3 lbs Bermuda arrowroot 


8 bottles superior old port 
4 bottles brandy 
2 bottles raspberry brandy 
2 bottles fleur d'orange 



In 1846-47, A. Bininger & Co. was a firm of grocers at 141 Broadway, New 

Voucher No. 3, New Yor\, 27 Feb. 1839 
U.S. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

1 chronometer balance watch by Amdd [.'^] & Dent, No. 
4632 220.00 

Edmund and George W. Blunt specialized in books and charts, and handled 
all nautical instruments of American manufacture. In 1846-47, the firm was 
located at 179 Water Street, New York, 

Voucher No. 4 {U.S. to E. &■ G. W. Blunt) [not present^ 

Voucher No. 5, New Yor\, 27 Feb. 1839 
U.S. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

1 camera lucida 18.00 

Voucher No. 6, New YorJ^, 27 Feb. 1839 
U.S. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

1 English nautical almanac for 1839 2.50 

1 American nautical almanac for 1839 1.50 

1 English nautical almanac for 1840 2.50 



Voucher No. 7, New York, 27 Feb. 1839 
U.S. to E. dr G. W. Blunt 

1 variation chart 3.00 

Voucher No. 8, Baltimore, 4 March 1839 
U.S. to James Green 

8 pocket thermometers 16.00 

2 of the same 5.00 

1 compass in gimbals 5.00 

5 lbs. quicksilver 8.75 


Voucher No. 9, {Baltimore^, 4 March 1839 
U.S. to Edward ]en}{ins and Sons 

20 yards gum elastic cloth 25.00 

In 1839, the Baltimore firm of Edward Jenkins and Sons, "importers of 
saddlery," was at 147 and 148 Baltimore Street. Some sixty years later the firm 
was still in business, located at 21 Hanover. 

Voucher No. 10, Baltimore, 4 March 1839 
U.S. to Fielding Lucas, Jr. 

2 airtight ink stands 2.00 

1 doz. Cohen's pencils 1.25 

I ea. 3H and 4H Jackson's pens 2.62^ 
9 pieces India rubber .37^ 

1 bunch quills 1.00 

4 2-quire cap quartos 1.50 

1 3-quire cap No. 1 paper 1.50 
1 quire super quarto port [folio] .37^ 

1 each 2- and 3-quire demi quarto 3.00 

2 small blank books .75 
logarithm tables, Callet 5.00 


Fielding Lucas, Jr. (1781-1854), a publisher of fine books and maps, sup- 
plier of "every article used in books, newspaper, and job offices," had earlier 
been a partner in the Baltimore firm of Conrad, Lucas, and Co., book pub- 
lishers. See FOSTER. 


Voucher No. 11, Baltimore, 5 March 1839 
U.S. to Stockton, Falls & Co. 

Freight of instruments and stores from Baltimore to Wheeling 13.00 

In 1842, the general stage offices of Stockton and Falls and Co. were at the 
Baltimore & Ohio depot on Pratt Street. 

Voucher No. 12, St. Louis, 20 March 1839 
U.S. to Collier & Pettus 

153 lbs. dried beef 19.89 

4 half bbls. pilot bread 10.00 

1 box .50 


Collier & Pettus were wholesale grocers and forwarding and commission 
merchants, 14 Front Street, St. Louis, 

Voucher No. 13, St. Louis, 22 March 1839 
U.S. to S. W. Meech 

\ ream blue wove cap 1.50 

\ ream white letter 1.38 

2 quires envelope paper .75 
1 4-quire half-bound record 1.50 
1 2-quire 1 /bound blanks 2.00 
1 card steel pens 1.00 
1 box wafers .13 

1 screw top ink stand .75 
4 bottles Japan ink 1.00 
6 reams mapping paper 12.00 

2 rulers .50 
4 papers of ink powder -50 

1 4-quire demy record 4.00 
4 binder's boards covered with leather 3.00 
covering two boards with leather .75 

2 binder's boards .25 
binding 2 vols, geology & botany 1.87 
box for packing mapping paper 1.00 


S. W. Meech was proprietor of the Franklin Bookstore, St. Louis. 


Voucher No. 14, St. Louis, 22 March 1839 
U.S. to Mueller & Ktngpeter 

21 March 1839 

1 trunk 4.50 

1 case for telescope 2.25 

6 straps for herbarium 1.50 


This St. Louis firm was listed in 1840-41 as Miller & Kinzpeter, saddlers 
and harnessmakers, at 53 S. Second Street. 

Voucher No. 15, St. Louis, 21 March 1839 
U.S. to A. W. Kruger 

1 German cavalry bridle, martingale and crupper 15.00 

A. W. Kruger not identified. 

Voucher No. 16, St. Louis, 22 March 1839 
U.S. to H. L. Zierlein 

1 rifle 20.00 

Henry L. Zierlein (1799-1864), a Prussian, became one of the first German 
hardware merchants in St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 17, St. Louis, 23 March 1839 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

On account of services rendered as chief of the North West 
Exploring Expedition 1000.00 

Voucher No. 18, St. Louis, 19 March 1839 
U.S. to R. Simpson 

24 lbs. chocolate 4.80 

This merchant may be Dr. Robert Simpson (1785-1873), who operated 
a store in this period but who earlier had served in the Army as a surgeon. He 
had come to the Mississippi Valley in 1809 from Maryland, ordered to serve 
the troops at the newly constructed Fort Madison. After resigning in 1812 
he started a medical practice in St. Louis, and also operated a drug store. See 
scHARF, 2:1520; billon, 244, 341; jackson [3], 25-26. 


Voucher No. 19, St. Louis, 23 March 1839 
U.S. to ]. E. Flandin 

Transportation of stores and instruments from New York to 
Baltimore 3.75 

Voucher No. 20, St. Louis, 25 March 1839 
U.S. to Charles Reshiner 

23 Jan. 1839 

1 sextant cleaned and varnished 20.00 

1 magnifying glass and movement 5.00 

1 mahogany box 8.00 

2 barometers filled, and new^ tubes 5.00 

15 Feb. 

1 brass frame to magnifying glass .75 

1 magnifying glass with wood frame 1.00 

16 March 

1 artificial horizon repaired 1.00 
cleaning vertical circle 3.00 
22 March 

cleaning telescope .75 

magnifying glass and tube to small sextant 2.50 

2 leather cases for barometers 4.00 
2 leather cases altered 1.00 
1 leather case for sextant 4.00 


We have not identified Charles Reshiner or Ryhiner, or F. Ryhiner (see 
voucher no. 15 below^). 

Voucher No. 21, St. Louis, 25 March 1839 
U.S. to Chas. A. Geyer 

For services 100.00 

Endorsed by JCF: "Mr. Geyer was appointed by the War Department as 
assistant to J. N. Nicollet Esqr., appointment bearing date 1st March 1839." 
In another hand: "at $2.00 per day from the 10th March to the 29th April 
inclusive." Another endorsement by JCF: "The amount was paid in advance 
to enable Mr. Geyer to procure his outfit. . . ." 


Voucher No. 22, St. Louis, 25 March 1839 
U.S. to H. H el gen berg 

1 sledge hammer 2.50 

1 small hammer 1-00 

1 small grubbing hoe 2.00 

2 stone chisels 2.00 
1 pruning [ ?] rod 1-^0 


Certified: "I certify that the above amount is Correct. C. Fremont." Both 
the certification and signature are in the hand of Jessie Benton Fremont, and 
probably were not added until at least late 1841. Henry Helgenberg first ap- 
pears in a St. Louis directory in 1842, listed as a grocer on Carondelet Avenue 
between Bridge and Wood. 

Voucher No. 23, St. Louis, 22 March 1839 
U.S. to Charles A. Geyer 

For services 16.00, drayage 1.00 17.00 

With endorsements similar to those for no. 21, indicating service at 2.00 
per day from 1 to 8 March inclusive. 

Voucher No. 24, St. Louis, 28 March 1839 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

On account of services rendered as chief of the North West 
Exploring Expedition. 100.00 

Voucher No. 25, St. Louis, 29 March 1839 
U.S. to f. S. Page 

1 cord and tassels for flag .87| 

No firm by this name is listed in the St. Louis directory for 1838-39, and it 
may be an error for J. S. Pease & Company — importers and dealers in hard- 
ware, cutlery, etc. at 20 N. First Street. 

Voucher No. 26, St. Louis, 29 March 1839 
U.S. to Henry Chouteau 

1 box hams and bacon 43.50 

1 keg butter 11.20 

1 box port wine, 12 bottles 8.00 


1 box sperm candles 14.88 

drayage -25 


Voucher No. 27, St. Louis, 29 March 1839 
U.S. to Chouteau & Barlow 

25 March 1839 

3 bed cords 1.50 

2 tea kettles 3.50 

2 [boxes] percussion caps 1.25 

2 frying pans 2.00 

2 cork screws .75 

2 doz. knives and forks 4.00 

3 loaves sugar 4.10 
1 tin cup -75 

4 canisters 2.00 

1 [ ] plates 1.00 

2 coffee pots 3.00 

2 lanterns 1-00 

3 lbs. saleratus .75 
2 doz. matches 1.00 

1 doz. spoons 1.12 

2 wash basins .75 
2 sauce pans 2.00 

1 saw 1.25 

2 spades 2.50 


Chouteau and Barlow, grocers and dry goods and commission merchants, 
were at Front and Market Streets, St. Louis, in 1838-39. 

Voucher No. 28, St. Louis, 29 March 1839 
U.S. to E. & J. C. Bredell 

1 crimson scarf 1.75 

Edward and John C. Bredell, brothers, were dry goods merchants at Main 
and Market Streets, St. Louis. 


Voucher No. 29, St. Louis, 29 March 1839 
U.S. to Gaty, Coonce &- Beltshoover 

[An illegible voucher involving materials for making rockets, 
including brass items, three rammers, and other items, total- 
ing 28.75]. 

Samuel Gaty (b. 1811) was chief partner in a foundry firm known vari- 
ously as Gaty & Coonce; Gaty, Coonce & Morton; and Gaty, Coonce & Belt- 
shoover. Gaty made the first casting in St. Louis and the first steam engine 
west of the Mississippi (scharf, 1:666-68). 

Voucher No. 30, St. Louis, 30 March 1839 
U.S. to Mrs. E. Lyons 

Making 2 mosquito bars 3.00 

making liner for same 1.50 

making scarf for flag 1.00 


In 1840, an E. Lyons family ran a fancy goods store at 24 Market Street, 
St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 31, St. Louis, 29 March 1839 
U.S. to Taylor & Marshall 

J yard Tibet merino 1.25 

In 1841, Taylor and Marshall were dealers in staple and fancy dry goods, 
Main and Pine Streets, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 32, St. Louis, 30 March 1839 
U.S. to George Engelmann, M.D. 

Set of chemical tests in a box with blowpipe 8.50 

6 [. . .] 18.00 

medicines, emetics, pills 3.50 

bottle of camphor 1.50 


Voucher No. 33, St. Louis, 30 March 1839 
U.S. to Jaccard &• Co. 

Cleaning and repairing one gold patent duplex watch 8.00 

3 common keys .37^ 


1 guard chain 3>1\ 

2 watch glasses 2.00 
cleaning and repairing silver watch 4.00 


Until 1848, Louis Jaccard was a principal owner of the jewelry house of 
Jaccard & Co., St. Louis (scharf, 2:1320). 

Second, Third, and Fourth Quarters, 1839 

Voucher No. 1, St. Louis, 1 April 1839 
U.S. to Carstens & Schuetze 

[Illegible bill, including 15 lbs. saltpeter for 3.00, and 2 lbs. 
sulfur.] 4.81 

Carstens and Schuetze, 168 Main Street, St. Louis, were wholesale druggists 
and apothecaries. 

Voucher No. 2, St. Louis, 1 April 1839 
U.S. to S. Wing & Co. 

30 tin grenade cases 11.25 

S. Wing & Co., 21 N. First Street, is listed as tin manufacturer and dealer 
in the St. Louis directory for 1842. 

Voucher No. 3, St. Louis, Mo., 2 April 1839 
U.S. to Mead & Adriance 

2 pair gilt flag tassels 7.00 

In 1839, Mead and Adriance were dealers in clocks, watches, jewelry, and 
military and fancy goods, at the corner of First and Pine Streets, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 4, St. Louis, 3 April 1839 
U.S. to George Engelmann, M.D. 

2 bottles soda of tartaric acid 2.00 

sharpening lancets -25 



Voucher No. 5, St. Louis, 3 April 1839 
U.S. to Grimsley & Young 

2 Spanish saddles 15.00 

1 bridle 2.50 

1 black leather belt ^ 


Grimsley and Young made saddles, harness, and trunks for the wholesale 
and retail trade, 37 Main Street, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 6, St. Louis, 4 April 1839 
U.S. to J. E. Flan din 

To cash advanced for paper, etc. 2.00 

cleaning rifle 2.50 

tent poles H-OO 

drayage 1-50 

powder __l 


Voucher No. 7, St. Louis, 5 April 1839 
U.S. to J. E. Flandin 

gun and case 55.00 

compensation for service from 4 March to 5 April @ 2.00 66.00 


Voucher No. 8, Fort Pierre, 25 June 1839 
U.S. to J. Baptiste Dorion 

1 bay horse 140.00 

Jean Baptiste Dorion, the interpreter at Fort Pierre when the Nicollet party 
stopped there, was the son of Pierre Dorion (ca. 1750-1810), who served with 
Lewis and Clark, and the brother of Pierre Dorion, Jr., who guided the 
Astorians to Oregon and was killed there by Indians in 1813 (robinson, 

Voucher No. 9, Lac du Brochet, 18 Aug. 1839 
U.S. to Louison Frenier 

For services rendered as guide, 61 days @ 2.50 152.50 

Freniere's mark witnessed by William Dickson. 


Voucher No. 10, Lac du Brocket, 18 Aug. 1839 
U.S. to Pierre Dorion 

For services as hunter, 61 days @ 1.00 per diem 61.00 

Dorion's mark witnessed by William Dickson. Dorion was the son of Jean 
Baptiste, who is identified under voucher no. 8. 

Voucher No. 11, Coteau du Prairie, 22 Aug. 1839 
U.S. to Wm. Dickson 

For service as interpreter and guide, 96 days @ 4.00 384.00 

1 bridle 2.00 


Voucher No. 12, Traverse des Sioux, 13 Sept. 1839 
U.S. to Joseph Renville 

1 3-pt. blanket 7.00 

1-3/4 [. . .] 6.50 

f yds. same 2.00 

107 lbs. lead 13.37i 

50 lbs. powder 37.50 

80 lbs. beef 6.40 

100 lbs. flour 6.50 

4 lbs. white sugar 1-00 

equipment 30.00 

1 canneau [ ?] 15.00 

10 lbs. tobacco 2.50 

3 lbs. tobacco -75 

50 lbs. meal 3.25 

30 lbs. lard 7.50 

15 lbs. sugar 3.75 
For 7 days of service as guide and interpreter from 5 Sept. 

through 11 Sept. @ 2.50 17.50 


Voucher No. 13, St. Peters, 1 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

Shoeing 1 horse 3.00, 1 cast steel axe with handle 3.37 6.37 

2 lbs. sugar 400, \ lb. tea 5/, 28 lbs. pork 4.20 5.22 

2i lbs. soap 5/, cash 80.00, 4 lbs. tobacco 1.00 81.63 


1 hemp bed cord 5/, 6 lbs. shot 6/, 20 lbs. sugar 4.00 5.38 
15 lbs. pemmican 2.10, 50 lbs. pork 7.50 9.60 
96 lbs. flour 7.00, ^ gallon molasses 6.00 7.75 
4 lbs. coffee 80^, 13-pt. blanket 6.00, 1 surcingle 8/ 7.80 
Amount paid for hire of 1 man with horse and cart from St. 
Peters to Prairie du Chien with allowance of time for re- 
turn, say 50 days @ 2.00 per day 100.00 


Rect. by H. H. Sibley for the American Fur Company. 

Voucher No. 14, Prairie du Chien, 3 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

113 lbs. pork @ 1210, 8 lbs. coffee @ 25^ 16.13 

40 loaves bread @ \2\(t, 25 lbs. sugar 4.25 9.25 

1 quire paper 50(Z', 1 gal. pease 25^ .75 

1 box matches, 250, 1 lb. tea 1.25 1.50 

paid Augt. Rock for provisions 5.00 

1 paper tacks 250, 1 lb. cut nails .44 

amount paid M. Richards for provisions 38.00 


Rect. by H. L. Dousman for the American Fur Company. M. Richards, in 
the last line, is not identified — but a man named Milo Richards was selected 
for the grand jury at the 3 Jan. 1842 meeting of the Crawford County Board of 
Commissioners (wis. his. rec. sur., 95). 

Voucher No. 15, St. Louis, 2 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to Estate of C. Ryhiner 

Repair 1 telescope 3.00 

Rect. by F. Ryhiner, administrator. 

Voucher No. 16, St. Louis, 6 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to L. Zindel 

For services rendered, 17 days @ 1.00, from 18 Nov. to 5 
Dec. inclusive 17.00 


Voucher No. 17, Pittsburgh, 17 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to May & H annas 

Freight on 12 packs from St. Louis to Pittsburgh 

2 packing boxes 

receiving, forwarding & drayage on 17 packs 




In 1839, May and Hannas were wholesale grocers and commission and for- 
warding merchants in Pittsburgh. 

Voucher No. 18, Pittsburgh, 18 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to L. Ackcrman 

Transportation per stage coach of instruments and one trunk 
containing manuscripts and field notes 

L. Ackerman not identified. 


Voucher No. 19, St. Louis, 18 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to Charles A. Geyer 

For services rendered as assistant to J. N. Nicollet from 
28 April to 14 Dec. 1839 @ 2.00 per diem 


Subvoucher, St. Louis, 4 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

For advances at St. Louis to Lt. Fremont on a/c of 

Exploring Expedition 
19 March 1839 

To cash paid Lt. Fremont's order 
To cash paid Flandin 
To cash paid the same 
To cash paid the same 
To cash paid Dorion 
To cash paid Freniere 
To cash paid for advertising lost boxes 
To cash paid Dousman 
To cash paid Dickson 
To cash paid Lt. Fremont's order 
To cash paid same 
To wages paid Jacques Fournaise 














To wages paid Frangois Latulippe 185.00 

To wages paid Joseph Chartran 191.00 

To wages paid Louis Zindell 207.00 

To wages paid Etienne Provost 778.00 

To cash paid Lt. Fremont's order 300.00 


Rect. at St. Louis 4 Dec. 1839 by Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and certified by JCF. 
Endorsed in the auditor's office: "Private with the exception of an item for 
advertising boxes." Persons not previously identified include Joseph Fournaise, 
who may be Jacques Fournais, dit Pino. Fournais went to the mountains in 
1827 for W. H. Ashley & Co. and was with Robert Campbell in the Flathead 
country in 1827-28. He apparently was a man of extreme age at his death at 
Kansas City in 1871, perhaps as old as 124 years, and reportedly had been 
refused service with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812 because of his age 
( ASHLEY, 290-91). Warren Ferris described some of his unusual experiences 
in Indian country without a weapon (ferris, 221-30). Francois Latulippe, 
who is carried in the Chouteau ledgers both as Latulipe Monbleau and 
Francois Latulipe, would join JCF's expedition in 1842 as a voyageur and go 
as far as Fort John on the Platte River. See pp. 182-84. Joseph Chartran, 
whom we have not identified, is listed elsewhere as Joseph Chartrand. 

The location of the foregoing documents is DNA-217, Third Auditor's 
Reports and Accounts, Acct. No. 10954. 

24. Fremont to Joel R. Poinsett 

Baltimore, Jany 3d '40 

Dear Sir 

Expecting to find Mr. Nicollet detained by his friends at this 
place I left Washington on the 27th ult. to tell him how much 
time was pressing & how pleased you would be to see him. Up to 
this time, however, he has not made his appearance & we have re- 
ceived no letter nor any other intelligence from him. Remember- 
ing that I left him in bad health, not yet recovered from a rather 
severe attack, & knowing that he would not fail to do the same for 
me, I would certainly set out in search, but that my funds are so 
completely low as to prevent me. He may be sick at some little 
roadside inn & wd. be glad to see a friend. 

I can do nothing in the way of work without him and therefore 
I think I am excusable in remaining here until his arrival & shall 
do so if I do not receive an order to the contrary. I was hoping that 


Mrs. Poinsett's Buffalo tongues would have been in time for the 
New Year Dinner, but the state of the roads, I suppose, prevented 
their arrival. I hope that she is well. Will you have the kindness to 
present to her my respectful regards with my New Year wishes for 
the enjoyment of uninterrupted health & happiness ? 

I am receiving a great deal of very agreeable attention here. Some 
of their friendship for Mr. N, is reflected on me, I suppose. I hope 
soon to be able to give you notice of his arrival. Very Respectfully 
Dear Sir, Your Obt. Servt. 

Charles Fremont 

ALS, RC (PHi — Poinsett Papers). Addressed and endorsed. 

25. Fremont to J. J. Abert 

Washington City Novr. 10th 1840 


It becomes necessary for us soon to give up the rooms which we 
now occupy in the Coast Survey & Weights and Measures building, 
which will oblige us to hire rooms for our own work. I have made 
the requisite enquiries and find that rooms can be obtained on 4^ 
street for $18 per month each. 

We shall want three rooms and the necessary fuel, and I have 
now to submit the application to your consideration. Very respect- 
fully &c. 

Chs. Fremont 

Copy (DNA-217, Third Auditor's Reports and Accounts, Acct. No. 12245). 
Endorsed: "Col. Abert respectfully recommends no greater allowance than 
for each room per month, $10 for an attendant with the requisite fuel. 
Approved, J. R. P[oinsett |." 


26. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogrl. Engrs. 
Washington, Novbr. 19th 1840 

Your letter of the 10th instt. has been duly submitted to the War 
Department, and in reply I am authorized to state that you can en- 
gage three rooms at a charge not exceeding ten dollars for each 
room per month. An attendant upon the rooms at a charge not 
exceeding ten dollars pr. month, and you can also procure the 
necessary fuel. The expenditures on these accounts will have to be 
paid out of the appropriation for the Survey upon which you are 
employed. The entire balance left in the Treasury is $1742.20 and 
I am particularly charged to direct that on no account is the balance 
to be exceeded, so as to create arrearages in case no additional ap- 
propriations should be made. Respectfully, 

J. J. Abert CI. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 4:296-97). 

27. Financial Records, 1840 

[31 Dec. 1840] 

First, Second, and Third Quarters, 1840 

Voucher No. 1, St. Louis, [1 July 1840] 
U.S. to Charles A. Geyer 

For services rendered to the U.S. as assistant to J. N. 

Nicollet from 14 Dec. 1839 to 1 July 1840 @ 2.00 per diem 396.00 

For transportation as follows: 

Fort Pierre to Oak Wood on the James River, 118 mi. 11.80 

Oak Wood to Devil's Lake, 362 mi. 36.20 

Devil's Lake to Lac qui Parle, 520 mi. 52.00 

Lac qui Parle to St. Peters, 470 mi. 47.00 

St. Peters to St. Louis, 694 mi. 69.40 


Voucher No. 2, St. Louis, 19 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to Joseph Fournaise 

For services to J. N. Nicollet as an engage, 1 March to 16 

Nov. 1839 @ 1.00 per diem 261.00 

Less cash received on account 163.13 


Signed with Fournaise's mark and witnessed by M[ichel] S[ylvestre] Cerre, 
a member of a family well known in the fur trade of the West. Cerre had 
been a member of the "French Company" or P. D. Papin Co. which Kenneth 
McKenzie eliminated from the trade in 1830. He had also been principal as- 
sistant to Captain Bonneville (chittenden, 1:309, 405; abel, xxvi, 202). After 
1835, Cerre's time was spent mainly in St. Louis. In 1848, he was the only 
Whig representative from that city elected to the state legislature. He served 
as sheriff of St. Louis County from Aug. 1858 until his death in 1860 ( Ander- 
son, 281-83). 

Voucher No. 3, St. Louis, 19 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to Francis Latulipe 

For services to J. N. Nicollet as an engage, 1 March to 16 

Nov. 1839 @ 1.00 per diem 261.00 

Less cash received on account 96.50 


Signed with Latulippe's mark and witnessed by M. S. Cerre. 

Voucher No. 4, St. Louis, 19 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to Joseph Chartrand 

For services to J. N. Nicollet as an engage, 1 March to 16 

Nov. 1839 261.00 

Less cash received on account 152.00 


Signed with Chartrand's mark and witnessed by M. S. Cerre. 

Voucher No. 5, St. Louis, 19 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to Louis Zindel 

For services to J. N. Nicollet as an engage, 1 March to 16 

Nov. 1839 261.00 

Less cash received on account 56.00 


Signed with Zindel's mark and witnessed by M. S. Cerre. 


Voucher No. 6, St. Louis, 20 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to Etienne Provinceau [Provost] 

For services to J. N. Nicollet as a guide, 1 March to 16 Nov. 

1839 @ 3.00 per diem 783.00 

Less cash received on account 33.00 


Voucher No. 7, St. Louis, 20 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to ]. N. Nicollet 

To amount expended in the purchase of provisions and 
other necessaries required in a survey of the Mississippi 
during a portion of the months of October and Novem- 
ber 1839 183.00 

Endorsed by Nicollet: "These expenditures were for a separate Survey un- 
der me, and were for provisions & hire of hands, provisions bought as wanted 
from the inhabitants. I certify that the expenses were actually made as stated, 
that vouchers could not have been procured but in a few cases and that I was 
not aware of their necessity, and that the amount charged was paid on public 

Voucher No. 8, St. Louis, 23 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

On account of geographical surveys west of the Mississippi 2000.00 

Voucher No. 9, St. Louis, 29 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

For sundries furnished Lt. Fremont at Fort Pierre: 

226 lbs. sugar 113.00 

112 lbs. coflee 56.00 

2\ lbs. tea 6.75 

368 lbs. tobacco 184.00 

10 3-pt. blue blankets 100.00 

2 3-pt. H. B. [Hudson Bay] blankets 20.00 

8 2i pt. H. B. blankets 64.00 

5 2-pt. white blankets 35.00 

58 pieces dry meat 29.00 

211 lbs. lead 52.75 

28^ lbs. powder 21.38 

21 lbs. balls 5.25 


3 buffalo robes 9.00 

8 bu. white agate beads 32.00 

i lb. fine garnishing 250, 20 bu. blue beads $40.00 40.25 

20 bu. white beads 40.00, 12 bu. blue agate beads 48.00 88.00 

10 bu. barley corn 30.00, 4 strings beads 2.00 32.00 

25 lbs. biscuit 5.00, 8 lbs. thread 20.00 25.50 

6 lbs. fish hooks 6.00, 12| doz. Crambo combs 12.13 18.13 

2 gross Indian awls 8.00, 2 gross gun worms 5.00 13.00 

19 snaffle bridles 23.75 

5 half-plate bridles 17.50 

2 full-plate bridles 6.67 
^ lb. candle wick 250, 30-| lbs. arrow points 10.38 10.63 
1 piece [. . .] cloth 60.75 
1 yd. blue Stroud 2.50, 1 piece cloth 10.00 12.50 
1 piece scarlet cloth 65.25 
l^ yds. red flannel 14.25, 1 yd. fine blue cloth 7.00 21.25 

6 pair scissors 3.00, 1 box soap 14.10 17.10 

3 surcingles 3.00 1 fort [ ?] flag 50.00 53.00 

1 American ensign 15.00, 1 capot 16.00 31.00 
3 leather halters 6.00, 173 yds. calico 86.50 92.50 

2 wooden bowls 2.00, 1 padlock 1.00 3.00 
2 japanned kettles 13.75, 2 tin kettles 5.00 18.75 

1 iron chain 3.00, 11 large cords 5.00, 1 drawing knife 1.75 9.75 

2 shirts 3.50, 5 lbs. tallow 750, 2 pieces stirrup iron 3.00 7.25 

1 barrel navy bread, 24.00, 3 parchments, 3.00 27.00 
12% 2 doz. knives 76.50 
6 chopping axes 18.00, 1 Assiniboin lance 3.00 21.00 
8 lbs. sturgeon line 24.00, 4 doz. looking glasses 6.00 30.00 
10| lbs. Vermillion 43.00 

3 gross coat buttons 12.00, 1 doz. small [?] 3.00 15.00 
3 gross finger rings 9.00, 2 elk skins 5.00 14.00 
3 antelope skins 5.00, 5 bu. corn & bags 15.50 20.50 
150 lbs. salt 18.75, 6 lbs. gun flints 12.00 30.75 
6 pieces ribbon 18.00, | gross Highland gartering 5.00 23.00 
3 [?] brass nails 6.00 
5 lbs. verdigris 15.00, 5 doz. fire steels 10.00 25.00 
75 lbs. nails 18.75, 10 papers hawk bells 15.00 33.75 
12 papers needles 3.00, 1 leather bag 1.00 4.00 

2 grizzly bear skins 6.00, 3 black silk handkerchiefs 6.00 12.00 


9 undressed cowskins 


1 large skin 


1 ermine [ ?] 


paid Dorion 


paid L. Frenier 


paid H. Tillot [not identified 


3 kegs for sugar 1.25, 1 bag 500, 1 packing box 4.00 


1 keg for coflfee 2.00, 1 10-gallon keg 2.00 



Voucher No. 10, St. Louis, 29 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

15 March 

36 yds. mosquito netting 9.00 
28 March 

65 yds. bed ticking 18.25 

6 barrels flour 48.00 

110 lbs. sugar 11.00 

100 lbs. rice 8.50 

13 lbs. tea 9.75 

150 lbs. powder 48.00 

125 lbs. shot 12.00 

160 lbs. small bar lead 10.40 

2 lbs. pepper .33 

3 hatchets 2.25 

4 sickles 2.00 
6 axes with handles 12.00 
2 barrels lyed corn, 7 bushels 7.87 
2 April 

2 pieces Russia sheeting 18.00 

3 barrels mess pork 72.00 
2 kegs white lead 6.00 

5 gals, linseed oil 7.25 

37 oz. red lead, keg 25^ 4.88 
1 bottle Japan varnish .75 
drayage 1.25 



Voucher No. 11, St. Louis, 29 Nov. 1839 
U.S. to the Steamboat Antelope 

5 April 

For freight and passage of Lt. Fremont and party: 
freight to Fort Pierre 322.20 

4 cabin passages 300.00 

6 men on deck 120.00 


Certified by E. Chouteau, master. 

Voucher No. 12, St. Louis, 4 Dec. 1839 
U.S. to Papin & Halsey {for P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company) 

For sundries furnished Lt. Fremont at Fort Pierre: 

1 Sept. 

4 carts and harness complete 220.00 

4 mules 320.00, 1 horse 70.00 390.00 

4 Indian horses 240.00 

4 Northwest guns 80.00 

1 fowling gun 25.00, 3 powder horns 1.50 26.50 

2 months' time of 5 men @ 25.00 per month 250.00 
62 days' hire of 6 carts, 3 horses, 3 mules, and harness, each 

cart per day 1.50 558.00 

62 days' hire of 2 used guns and 3 horns 2.75 

62 days' hire of 3 Northwest guns 15.00 


Certified by P. D. Papin and JCF, and receipted by Pierre Chouteau, Jr., 
and Co. Pierre Didier Papin (b. 1798) was an agent of Chouteau at Fort 
Pierre, along with Jacob Halsey (d. 1842). Papin would be assigned to take 
charge of Fort Laramie in 1845, and thus have further dealings with JCF. 

Voucher No. 13, Washington, 8 July 1840 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For transportation from Washington to St. Louis, 911 mi. 
In Northwest Territory from 9 June to 26 Aug., 78 days 

at 18 mi. per day, 1404 mi. 
From 14 Sept. to 26 Oct., 43 days at 18 mi. per day, 774 mi. 
From St. Peters to St. Louis, 694 mi. 
Fort Pierre to Oak Wood on James River, 118 mi. 


James River to Devil's Lake 362 mi. 
Devil's Lake to Lac qui Parle, 520 mi. 
Lac qui Parle to St. Peters, 470 mi. 
St. Peters to St. Louis, 694 mi. 
St. Louis to Washington, 911 mi. 

Total, 6858 mi. @ 10^ per mi. 685.80 

Endorsed by JCF: "The number of miles daily made in the N. W. Terry, 
could not be exactly ascertained. An average was taken. C. Fremont." 

Voucher No. 14, Washington, 8 July 1840 
US. to /. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered in making geographical surveys of 
the country west of the Mississippi, from 7 April 1838 

to 7 July 1840, inclusive, 823 days @ 8.00 per diem 6584.00 

Amount reed, of Lt. C. Fremont on account 1000.00 

Amount reed, of Lt. C. Fremont on account 100.00 

Amount reed, of Lt. C. Fremont on account 2000.00 


Voucher No. 15, Washington, 21 July 1840 
U.S. to Ludolph Mailer 

For services as assistant calculator on reduction of maps 
from North West Surveys for 70 days, from 12 May to 20 
July @ 2.00 per diem 140.00 

Ludolph Miiller, whom JCF hired to assist him with the preparation of the 
Nicollet map, does not appear in the various Washington, D.C., directories 
for the 1830s and 1840s. 

Voucher No. 16, Washington, 19 Aug. 1840 
U.S. to William Fischer 

10 Aug. 

1 card mapping pens 1.25 

1 stick India ink .37^ 

^ doz. Roohs pencils 1.00 

china cup .06^ 


William Fischer, stationer, was located at Stationer's Hall, Washington, 
D.C. JCF has made a small error in addition, and the total should be $2.69. 


Voucher No. 17, Washington, 20 Aug. 1840 
U.S. to Geo. &■ T. Parser 

7 June 

1 box candles 17.61 

20 Aug. 

1 box candles 17.48 


In 1843, George and T. Parker were grocers on the north side of the Centre 
Market Place, between Seventh and Eighth W., Washington. 

Voucher No. 18, Washington, 20 Aug. 1840 
U.S. to Franck^ Taylor 

1 Colton's map of Iowa 2.75 

1 Colton's map of Missouri .62^ 


Franck Taylor, a book dealer, advertised in the Daily National Intelli- 
gencer, 24 Dec. 1839, that he was "four doors east of Gadsby's Hotel." 

Voucher No. 19, Washington, 30 Sept. 1840 
U.S. to Ludolph MUller 

For services as assistant to }. N. Nicollet from 1 Aug. to 30 
Sept. @ 2.00 per diem 122.00 

Fourth Quarter, 1840 

Voucher No. 1, Washington, 28 Sept. 1840 
U.S. to Post Office Department 

Postage on one letter weighing 2 oz. 2.00 

Voucher No. 2, Washington, 1 Oct. 1840 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered as superintendent of the government 
surveys in the Northwestern Country, from 8 July to 
30 Sept. 1840 @ 8.00 per diem 680.00 


Voucher No. 3, Washington 

, 30 Nov. 1840 

U.S. to Thomas Triplett 

29 Oct. 

6 yds. cotton for a map 


pasting paper on same 
6 yds. linen for maps 


pasting paper on same 
sewing the linen for the maps 
6 yds. linen 


1 paste brush 



Thomas Triplett, a bookbinder, was on Massachusetts Avenue between 
Sixth and Seventh in 1846. 

Voucher No. 4, Washington, 20 Dec. 1840 
U.S. to William King, Jr. 

For repairing 3 instrument boxes 8.25 

William King, Jr., may be the son of the cabinet maker William King, 
listed in Benjamin Roman's Directory of Georgetown, D.C., as being on 
Congress Street, near Water [31st near K Street]. 

Voucher No. 5, Washington, 30 Dec. 1840 
U.S. to C. M. Eaf{in 

For 1 box of colors to be used in construction of map of North 
Western Surveys 7.50 

Constant M. Eakin was an assistant in the Coast Survey. 

Voucher No. 6, Washington, 30 Dec. 1840 
U.S. to Ludolph Mailer 

For 37 days work, assisting in the office on detail drawings, 
from 24 Nov. to 30 Dec. 1840 @ 2.00 per diem 74.00 

Voucher No. 7, Washington, 31 Dec. 1840 
U.S. to Charles Renard 

12 sheets drawing paper for maps 11.00 

6 yds. linen 1.50 

sewing for 2 maps 1.12^ 



bookbinder work 1.62^ 

tacks -10 


Charles Renard, according to cajori, 179, was also one of Ferdinand R. 
Hassler's assistants. 

The documents presented above are in DNA-217, Third Auditor's Reports 
and Accounts, Acct. No. 10954. 

28. J. J. Abert to Joel R. Poinsett 

Bureau of Topol. Engrs. 
Washington, Jany. 25th 1841 

I have the honor to acknowledge your direction to report upon 
that part of a Resolution of the Military Committee of the House 
of Representatives in reference to the amount required to extend 
the Surveys, and to publish the map lately made by Mr. Nicollet. 

For the amount required to extend the Survey, allow me to refer 
to the estimate which accompanied the annual report from this 
office, 12th Novbr. 1840, in which there is an item: 

"for continuing the military and geographical surveys west of the 
Mississippi . . . $20,000.00." 

In reference to the cost of publishing the map already made, I sub- 
mit a letter from Mr. Stone.^ The map ought to be engraved on 
the same scale on which it is drawn, for, if reduced, justice will 
not be done to the work, as many highly interesting details would 
have to be omitted. I hope, therefore, that no reduction of the Scale 
will be authorized. 

In a work of the importance of this involving as well the repu- 
tation of the War Department by which it was directed, as that of 
the officer by whom the Survey has been made, it is proper that 
some person should be held responsible for its accuracy. I hope, 
therefore, that any direction to print the same will also contain 
authority for its being done under the direction of this office. 

The map should be engraved, as the best, the most economical, 
and the most creditable method of exhibiting work of that char- 


acter; the price stated by Mr. Stone is not beyond a rigid valuation of 
a moderate compensation for the materials, talents and labors which 
the engraving will require; and as the plates will belong to the 
U.S., future editions of the map can be issued, at no greater cost 
than for the labor of printing and for the paper required, and future 
additions can be engraved upon the same plates. 

There is a report in preparation which should accompany the 
map, and for the printing of which it is also desirable to have 

The direction might be to have these laid before Congress during 
its next session, as it is not possible to have them in time for the 
present. Very respectfully, 

J. J. Abert 
CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 4:359-60). 

1. W. }. Stone (1798-1865), London-born engraver and lithographer who 
spent more than fifty years in Washington. The estimate he sent to Abert has 
not been found. 

29. Joel R. Poinsett to Levi Woodbury 

February 26-1841 
i Sir, 

I have the honor to request that certain township plats on file in 
the General Land Office, which will be designated by the bearer, 
Lieut. Fremont, may be delivered to him to be used for a few days, 
to aid in filling up the details of a map of the North Western terri- 
tory, now being constructed under the direction of this department. 


Lbk (DNA-107, LS, 23:224). Levi Woodbury (1789-1851) was Secretary 
of the Treasury and would soon serve as a U.S. senator from New Hampshire. 


30. }. }. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topographical Eng. 
Washington, June 4th. 1841 

You will repair without delay to the mouth of the Rac[c]oon fork 
of the Des Moines, in order to determine that position, and the To- 
pography of the adjacent country. You will also make a survey of the 
Des Moines, from the Rac[c]oon fork to its mouth. 

As this information is wanted for the map of the Western Coun- 
try now being made, you will infuse all the industry in your power 
in the execution of the duty ; and if practicable, be back to this city 
early in August. Respectfully, 

J. J. Abert 
Col. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 4:480). In the role of legend-makers, the Fremonts per- 
petuated the story that JCF had been sent to survey the Des Moines River to 
get him away from Washington and the charms of young Jessie Benton. His 
campaign biographer, John Bigelow, mentions a "mysterious but inexorable 
order" to survey the river (bigelow, 34), and JCF's own memoirs say, 
"Whether or not this detachment from Washington originated with Mr. 
Nicollet or not I do not know, but I was loath to go" (memoirs, 68). Actually 
the boundary between Missouri and Iowa Territory was in dispute and per- 
haps Benton hoped JCF's survey of the lower course of the Des Moines 
would bolster the expansionist claims of the Missourians. Furthermore, the 
Nicollet map would be more valuable with such a survey. The area around the 
Raccoon Forks (where the Raccoon joins the Des Moines) had been surveyed by 
the 1st Dragoons when exploring for a wagon road between Fort Leaven- 
worth and Fort Snelling in 1838. Field notes and a journal kept by one of the 
surveying officers are in DNA-77, Box 64. But there apparently was no continu- 
ous and extensive survey of the entire river below the forks, although Lieut. 
Albert M. Lea (1808-91) had been in the area with the Dragoons in 1835 
and had done some mapping. His Notes on the Wisconsin Territory, Partic- 
ularly with Reference to the Iowa District or Blac{ Haw\ Purchase was pub- 
lished in Philadelphia in 1836. 

One further survey, ordered by Abert in Dec. 1840, had limited objectives 
and a small budget, and appears to have been concerned mainly with obstruc- 
tions to navigation, which in itself had boundary overtones. See the report of 
Capt. William B. Guion, of the Topographical Engineers, 9 Oct. 1841, 
DNA-77, LR, 2:70. 

If, as the story goes. Senator Thomas Hart Benton had JCF sent out of 
Washington so that he might forget about Jessie, there is a note of irony in 
the incident. When JCF submitted his report on the Des Moines in the fol- 
lowing spring (see Doc. No. 37), the entire document except the maps was in 
Jessie's hand. 



31. Joseph N. Nicollet to Fremont 

Washington, July 11, 1841 
My dear Fremont, 

I have received with joy your letter dated St. Louis, 23rd of June 
past, and I was happy to learn that all was going according to your 
wishes to assure the success of your short and interesting mission. 
I assure you that your absence is no less sad to me here than mine 
had been to you in St. Louis. I thank you for the touching memento 
of your friendship. No day passes when I do not accompany you in 
heart and thought in all your moves. I calculate your arrival in 
Racoon fork, and I see with sorrow that the moon is going, and 
that we won't have much distance from the moon to the stars, un- 
less you can stand upright after midnight. But you have the dis- 
tances in the sun during the day, and I know you won't lose them. I 
am glad that you have taken Mr. Geyer to help you. You had not 
left Baltimore when the idea came to me and I would have written 
to St. Louis to give you the idea, if I had not thought that Mr. 
Geyer was probably involved in work and that he could not have 
accepted your offer. I am deeply distressed with what you tell me of 
his situation. Unfortunately, I cannot do all that you ask me for 
him. I can do only half, and I am writing to Mr. Chouteau to give 
him the sum of 100 dollars for me, until I can do something more. 
It would not be convenient for me to send this money to his land- 
lord, and for the sake of Geyer I should not do it, either. It would 
be better for him to arrange his own affairs without his landlord 
knowing what goes on between us, between friends. Besides, I 
would not have another way of sending this money except by Mr. 
Chouteau, with whom I have an account, and who will advance me 
the sum. But Mr. Chouteau, to whom I am writing for this, doesn't 
know for what reason I am sending this sum to Mr. Geyer, thus the 
latter need have no qualms in presenting himself to receive it and 
give an acknowledgment. I am writing a short note to Mr. Geyer, 
being very hurried, but explain all of this to him and tell him that 
it is with great pleasure that I come to his aid, but with great regret 
not to be able to do more.^ Moreover, I shall see Mr. Geyer in the 
month of September next. My health, while better, is not strong, 
and I need two months of leave, that I will take sometime after 


your return here, for it is indispensable that one of the two of us be 

We have worked very hard, I don't go out anymore, all continues 
to be fine, even very fine, with our superiors, the Col. and Mr. Bell. 
The revision of the copy of the map took us 26 days. All the names 
are written; it lacks only your work on the Desmoines, and to finish 
the topography. I will not change anything of your admirable Mis- 
souri. Two small errors in your drawing, and two errors in the 
computations reconciled the whole business. I can't tell you the 
chagrin I felt at first in destroying the beautiful Piece of the Mis- 
souri. Later, what joy! when I saw that nothing would be changed. 
The Map has not yet come back from Stone's, and Mr. Scammon'' 
has still not been able to do anything on the topography. But it 
will soon be here. Don't forget that I am counting on you for my 
Coteau des Prairies and the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. So come 
as promptly as possible, everyone here and in Baltimore asks for 
you, even at Mr. B . . . 's,^ each time I go there. The young ladies 
arrived the day before yesterday, in the evening, ten days later than 
they were expected, because of the Grandma who died the moment 
when they were to start out to return to Washington. Everything is 
fine, you are happily and impatiently awaited. 

I am beginning to enjoy the pleasure of thinking that you are at 
the end of your work, and that you have succeeded at least in the 
main points. Mr. Chouteau will be glad to see you again. He spent 
two weeks here. Have you gathered any fossils ? I would be pleased 
if Mr. Geyer could gather some around St. Louis, such as Gravel, 
Fluorspar, with some specimens of the rock to which they belong, 
all labeled in order of superposition. If he can do that for me, pay, 
I beg you, expenses and his time for me. I would also like some 
specimens of the limestone on which the city of St. Louis rests, 
from Market Street all the way to the bottom of the Mississippi, if 
it's possible. I need that to complete my collection, having lost part 
of that which I had gathered in 1837. 

You haven't told me anything of the commissions which I gave 
you for our friend, Dr. Engelmann.^ Give him my best, and tell him 
that I will bring him his Barometer. Mr. Goebel's [record of] the 
eclipse [is not] necessary to me, but I would be relieved to have the 
local information that I asked him in order to put his observatory 
on the map and to make his work known.*' I haven't heard anything 
about that yet. I am at the end of my paper, I would Hke to chat 



with you again, but I don't recall anything of importance. If any- 
thing comes to me, I will write you again. I await you with open 
arms to embrace and to congratulate you. All the best, 

J. N. Nicollet 

Ask our friend Dr. Engelmann to send the enclosed note to Mr. 

ALS, RC (lU — Fremont Papers). This letter, in French, was presented to 
the University of Illinois by Allan Nevins, who received it from the Fremont 
family. Addressed, "Lieut. Chs. Fremont of the Topographical Corps St. 
Louis (Mo.)." 

L The gist of this passage seems to be that botanist Charles A. Geyer is in 
financial difficulties, although it is not completely clear whether Nicollet is 
lending or giving him $100.00. Taking Geyer along on the Des Moines River 
survey seems to have been JCF's idea. Although Geyer obviously went for 
the sake of making plant collections, JCF could only hire him as an engage 
and boat hand (see Doc. No. 36) at $1.50 per day. 

2. Colonel Abert and John Bell, who served briefly as Secretary of War un- 
der President Harrison in 184L 

3. Lieut. Eliakim Scammon (d. 1894), of the Corps of Topographical 

4. The home of Senator Thomas Hart Benton. The last sentence in the para- 
graph is, of course, a veiled reference to the friendship between JCF and 

5. A German emigrant, Dr. George Engelmann (1809-84) practiced medi- 
cine in St. Louis but was mainly known as a botanist and pioneer meteorol- 
ogist. He corrresponded widely with other scientists, and his strategic location 
at the edge of the frontier put him in an excellent position to observe and 
participate in scientific advances in new geographical areas. 

6. David Goebel (1787-1872) had come to Missouri from Coburg, Ger- 
many, in 1834, becoming a farmer, teacher, and surveyor. The information 
which Nicollet mentions is apparendy to be found in a notebook now at the 
State Historical Society of Missouri, containing astronomical observations, 
barometric pressures, and thermometric readings made in eastern Missouri 
from 1840 to 1844 {Mo. Hist. Rev., 35:613). 

32. Fremont to Ramsay Crooks 

Washington City 
August 12th 1841 
My Dear Sir. 

Mr. [John F. A.] Sanford has had the kindness to take charge of 
a very interesting collection of minerals which he proposes to for- 


ward to us through you. Mr. Nicollet joins me in requesting that 
you will have the kindness to send it to the care of the Revd. Mr. 
Raymond/ President of St. Mary's College, Baltimore, Md. In pre- 
senting his warm regards to you Mr. N. desires me to say that he 
expects to have the pleasure of seeing you about the 20th in New 
York, He has had a severe attack of illness & his health is at present 
quite bad. Annexed I send you a Draft for the amt. you had the 
kindness to advance for which I beg leave to repeat my acknowl- 
edgements. Most Respectfully & truly Yr. Obt. Servt. 

J. Ch. Fremont 

ALS, RC (NHi — American Fur Company Papers). Addressed, "Ramsay 
Crooks Esqre. Rear 39 Ann St. New York N.Y." Endorsed; reed. 14 Aug. 
and answered 14 Aug. Crooks' reply acknowledged receipt of a check for 
$100 and assured JCF that the minerals would be sent to Baltimore when they 
arrived (Lbk, 17:134). 

1. Father Gilbert Raymond, later president — in 1850 — of St. Charles' Col- 
lege for boys, fifteen miles from Baltimore (cath. almanac). 

33. Fremont to Ramsay Crooks 

Washington D.C. Sepr. 15th. 1841 

Dear Sir 

Your esteemed favor of Uth Currt. came safely to hand yesterday. 
I am quite glad to receive intelligence of the Box, respecting which 
I had begun to feel some anxiety. May I so far trespass on your 
kindness as to beg that you will have it sent to this place per Rail 
Road, accompanied by Charges ? I hope you will excuse the trouble 
I sincerely regret giving & which I could not well avoid. 

It gives me pleasure to hear that Mr. Nicollet's health is improving 
so much. I trust that you are regaining yours as rapidly & with the 
warmest regards for yourself remain Very truly & Respectfully Dr. 
Sir Yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (NHi — American Fur Company Papers). Addressed; endorsed; 
reed. 19 Sept., answered 5 Oct. Crooks' letter of 11 Sept. advised JCF that 
fur company agents in New Orleans had received a box addressed from St. 
Louis, and were shipping it on to New York. He asked for instructions about 
the disposal of the package and made brief comments on Nicollet's recent 


visit to New York and the improved state of the scientist's health (Lbk, 
17:254). On 5 Oct., Crooks was able to inform JCF that the box had arrived, 
that it had been sent on to Washington, and that the charges were $1.25 (Lbk, 

34. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau to Topographical Engineers 
Washington, Octr. 10th. 1841 

Your letter of the 9th inst. has just been received. The Resolution 
of the Senate, in reference to the Map to which you allude, places 
the Superintendance of its publication under this office; your course 
therefore, in reporting your fears upon the subject is correct and ap- 

The work of the drawing should long since have been removed to 
this office, that a knowledge of its progress, as well as that of the 
Engraver, could have been known. 

You will therefore, without delay, remove your work as indicated, 
where the Engraver will be sent for, and the matter of your letter 
fully enquired into. Very Respectfully, &c. 

J. J. Abert 
Col. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:37). JCF's letter of 9 Oct., to which this is a reply, is 
not registered in the bureau's records and has not been found. 

35. Ferdinand H. Gerdes to Fremont 

Washington 7 Novb. 1841 
My dear Mr. Fremont. 

Your letter dated Balto. I have received in due time, and, would 
not have delayed my answer on this particular occasion for an hour, 
if it had not been for breaking up my camp and leaving for Wash- 
ington. I have arrived here on Friday morning, and now I hasten to 
offer you my best congratulations and beg you to accept my most 


sincere wishes for your future happiness. Perhaps you have noticed, 
Mr. Fremont, that I am not very fond of much and big talk, but so 
much I can assure you, that none of your friends — (you have per- 
mitted me to class myself amongst them) — feel a w^armer interest 
for you then I do, that no one wishes more truly and cordial, that those 
expectations of a blessed domestic happiness, w[h]ich you naturally 
must have formed, may sooti and continually be realized. I hope you 
will not think it to great a liberty, when I repeat the words "soon". 
— Although my dear Mr. Fr. I can not judge in this particular case 
clearly, yet I would venture to say, that any delay of an open decla- 
ration, w[h]ich some time or another must follow, makes your ex- 
cuse less well, as this declaration itself, much more difficult. Beside 
the possibility of an accidental discovery is very strong! — Why don't 
you go, manly and open as you are, forward and put things by a 
single step to right — never mind in what this step consists — only act 
now and you will soo7i get over little disturbances w[h]ich might 
arise at first. Nothing very serious can happen now more to you — 
the prize is secured and the rest will soon be smoothed by help of 
time and mutual affection and love. 

If I am mistaken in my suggestion, it is for want of information, 
and then I beg to forgive me. It is friendship that makes me write so. 
Anyhow, I symp[ath]ize with you — and entertain no fears for a 
fortunate conclusion. 

I arrived here on Friday morning and am perfectly happy in the 
society of my lovely girl. I don't like it much you beat me so de- 
cidedly, but I hope now to follow soon, and then if I should go out 
in Spring again, I will not have to leave her behind me. I had no 
time in Balto. to call on you, beside I did not know your residence 
alto' supposing it be Barnums. 

Mrs. Cummings and Mary^ desire to be remembered to you and I 
conclude with the assurance of friendship and personal esteem. 
Yours very truly, 

F. H. Gerdes 

When walking last night with my Mary & Mrs. C. we met Mrs. F. 
I had a glimpse at her, and thought she looked very well and happy. 
Excuse all the blots, neither pen nor ink are good for anything. 

ALS, RC (CU-B — Fremont Papers). Addressed, "Lieut. J. C. Freemont I 
U.S. Topogr. Engineers Baltimore." From Baltimore the letter was forwarded ' 
to Charleston, S.C. 


The letter requires a longer note than its importance might indicate. It is 
one of the few extant personal letters to JCF in this period, and has been 
quoted before (as in nevins, 69-70), but the writer has not previously been 
identified. His signature is very poor and has usually been rendered "F. W. 
Gody." Because he mentions "breaking up my camp and leaving for Wash- 
ington," it is not surprising that he has been considered a frontiersman whom 
JCF may have met in the Mississippi or Missouri valleys. He is obviously of 
JCF's generation and feels qualified to speak of such personal matters as the 
secret marriage of the Fremonts. 

The writer's reference to "Mrs. Cummings and Mary" wishing to be re- 
membered to JCF, and the fact that he had been out walking "with my Mary & 
Mrs. C," provided the first lead. The financial records had already revealed 
that JCF was renting rooms for the work of the Survey from Mary J. Cum- 
mings. It occurred to us that the writer of the letter might be courting a girl 
named Mary, the daughter of JCF's landlady. So we instituted a search of 
marriage records in the District of Columbia for several months after the 
letter was written, and found that on 26 May 1842 Miss Mary Cummings 
had indeed been married — to Ferdinand H. Gerdes. And then the signature 
began to look like "F. H. Gerdes." 

Born in Germany, young Gerdes (1809-84) was an assistant in the U.S. 
Coast and CJeodetic Survey. He was engaged in primary triangulation in New 
Jersey and Maryland, and in topographical work on the Delaware River, be- 
tween 1841 and 1844. And of course he would have had a further occasion 
to become acquainted with JCF through his superintendent, F. R. Hassler. 
During the Civil War, Gerdes served on special duty with the Gulf Squadron 
under Farragut, then did surveying in western waters. For an obituary no- 
tice, see COAST and geodetic survey, 15-16. 

JCF and the seventeen-year-old Jessie Benton were married secretly on 19 
Oct. 1841 by a Catholic priest. Father Van Horseigh, after two Protestant 
clergymen had refused to perform the ceremony. For Senator Benton's rage on 
returning from a western trip and finding the couple married, and for his 
refusal to permit a second marriage by a Protestant minister as Jessie's mother 
wished, see the letters of Jessie to Elizabeth Blair Lee, 23 July [1856], NjP — 
Blair-Lee Papers, and Sarah Simpson (Hart) Thompson to Nathaniel Hart, 
19 Jan. 1842, KyLoF — Edmund T. Halsey Collection. Mrs. Simpson writes 
that Benton would not let Jessie remain in his house. "The marriage was pub- 
lished & Fremont took his wife to his lodgings." At Mrs. Benton's request, 
intermediaries finally got the senator to treat the couple with "passing 


36. Financial Records, 1841 

[31 Dec. 1841] 
First Quarter, 1841 

Voucher No. 1, Washington, 28 Feb. 1841 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered as superintendent of Northwestern 
Surveys from 1 Oct. 1840 to 28 Feb. 1841, 151 days at 8.00 
per diem. 1208.00 

Voucher No. 2, Washington, 13 March 1841 
U.S. to A. Shepherd 

J ton of coal delivered 6.25 

Endorsed by JCF: "The above expenditure was authorized by the Secretary 
of War. See letter from Col. J. J. Abert appended to Voucher No. 4." The 
letter is our Doc. No. 26. A. Shepherd advertised in the Daily National In- 
telligencer, 1 Sept. 1841, that he sold coal, firewood, and building lumber on 
Seventh Street, Washington. 

Voucher No. 3, Washington, 20 March 1841 
U.S. to Mary J. Cummin gs 

For 3 rooms at 30 dollars per month from 20 Nov. 1840 to 20 
March 1841. 120.00 

Endorsement by JCF same as with preceding voucher. 

Voucher No. 4, Washington, 25 March 1841 
U.S. to Geo. McDuell 

2 Nov. 

1 cord hickory wood 7.00 

2 cords green oak 11.00 
1 cord seasoned oak 5.50 

27 Nov. 

I ton coal 6.75 

28 Nov. 

I ton coal 6.75 

I ton coal 6.75 

1 cord pine wood 4.50 


30 Nov. 

1 cord oak 5.50 

26 Dec. 

I ton coal 6.75 

28 Dec. 

1 ton coal 6.75 
25 Jan. 

1^ tons coal 13.50 

Sawing and portage 5.75 


George McDuell had a wood and coal yard "on the Tiber or Canal,"' near 
Fourteenth Street, Washington. 

Voucher No. 5, Washington, 31 March 1841 
U.S. to Christopher Kraft 

For 4 months' attendance upon rooms from 20 Nov. 1840 to 
20 March 1841, @ 10 per month 40.00 

Christopher Kraft, a servant, not further identified. 

Second Quarter, 1841 

Voucher No. 1, Washington, 20 May 1841 
U.S. to John Hitz 

2 doz. fillers .25 
crucibles of different sizes and descriptions 3.35 
iron muflfle supports and muffles 2.25 
chemical reagents, furnaces, coal and all the necessary labo- 
ratory implements 39.50 


John Hitz, a Swiss emigrant and formerly employed in the gold mines of 
Virginia, had been engaged by Ferdinand R. Hassler in 1835 to make the 
brass that was necessary for the standards (cajori, 159). 

Voucher No. 2, Washington, 20 May 1841 
U.S. to John Hitz 

For services rendered to the United States as assistant to J. N. 
Nicollet in analysing the ores and minerals of the North 
Western Expedition, for 15 days from 3 May to 17 May @ 
4.00 per day. 60.00 


Voucher No. 3, Baltimore, 31 May 1841 
U.S. to James Green 

30 Jan. 

1 dipping needle apparatus, stand and case 115.00 

1 magnetic needle 2.00 

1 double magnifier 1.50 
29 May 

repairing mountain barometer 7.00 

repairing barometer in tripod 7.00 


Voucher No. 4, Washington, 31 May 1841 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered the U.S. as superintendent of North- 
western Surveys, from 1 March to 31 May 1841, 92 days @ 
8.00 per day. 736.00 

Voucher No. 5, Baltimore, 8 ]une 1841 
U.S. to James Green 

1 June 

1^ lbs. mercury 3.00 

1 thermometer 2.00 

1 compass 2.50 


Voucher No. 6, Washington, 7 June 1841 
U.S. to William Fischer 

31 May 

6 sheets antiquarian for engraving maps 6.00 

4 June 

4 sheets antiquarian for same 4.00 


Voucher No. 7, Washington, 21 June 1841 
U.S. to Dinnies & Radford 

2 blank books, quarto 2.00 
1 blank book .50 
1 penknife .50 


6 lead pencils .62 

1 paper ink powder .12 


This voucher was probably drawn in St. Louis, not Washington, where 
Dinnies and Radford offered books, stationery, and pianos for sale. 

Voucher No. 8, St. Louis, 22 July 1841 
U.S. to Steamboat Monsoon 

For 2 sick passengers 4.00 

Endorsed by JCF: "I certify that the two men for whom transportation 
was paid as above were in the service of the United States." 

Voucher No. 9, St. Louis, 23 June 1841 
U.S. to Edward Ploudre 

1 gray horse sixteen hands high 75.00 

Edward Ploudre not identified. 

Voucher No. 10, St. Louis, 23 June 1841 
U.S. to Jacob Kenner 

For making 1 box to serve as case for mercurial horizon 1.62 

repairing gun .75 

making box for geological specimens .75 


Jacob Kenner not identified. 

Voucher No. 11, St. Louis, 23 June 1841 
U.S. to J. J. Humbert 

1 mosquito bar 9.00 

John J. Humbert, upholsterer, born in Frankfurt-am-Main and living in 
St. Louis by 1836 (van ravenswaay). 

Voucher No. 12, St. Louis, 23 June 1841 
U.S. to Adolphus Meier 

21 June 

1 measuring tape 2.50 

\ doz. knives and forks .75 

^ doz. iron tablespoons .44 


1 axe and handle, 1 hatchet 3.25 

1 frying pan, 1 teakettle 1.75 

2 [. . .] 1.25 
2 [. . .] .37 
1 tin lanthorn .50 
4 cups .25 
1 wash basin .50 
4 tin plates .50 
1 screwdriver .25 
1 box .50 
Drayage .50 


Adolphus Meier & Co., importer of hardware and cudery, guns, pistols, and 
looking glasses, 23 Main Street, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 13, St. Louis, 23 June 1841 
U.S. to Angelrodt, Eggers & Barth 

6 lbs. sperm candles 3.00 

25 lbs. coffee 3.75 

4 lbs Imp. tea 5.00 

2j lbs. soap .25 

16 lbs. sugar 2.91 

50 lbs. rice 3.25 

1 can rifle powder 1.00 

I barrel crackers 2.50 

34 lbs. chewing tobacco 8.50 

4 lbs. chocolate 1.00 

1 box .25 

6 boxes matches .19 

1 ream paper 2.75 


Angelrodt, Eggers, and Barth, 165 Main Street, St. Louis, were importers 
and dealers in groceries, liquors, wines, and cigars. 

Voucher No. 14, St. Louis, 25 June 1841 
U.S. to Jaccard & Co, 

cleaning and repairing chronometer 5.00 

1 card steel pens 1.00 



Voucher No. 15, St. Louis, 25 ]une 1841 
U.S. to Grimsley & Young 

1 Spanish saddle 7.00 

1 fine bridle 4.50 

1 martingale 1.00 


Voucher No. 16, St. Louis, 25 June 1841 
U.S. to B. W. Ayres 

Keeping 1 horse 2 days, 23 to 25 June, @ 500 per diem 1.00 

B. W. Ayres kept the Green Tree Tavern at 68 Second, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 17, St. Louis, 25 June 1841 
U.S. to Grimsley & Young 

3 side hobbles 2.25 

Voucher No. 18, St. Louis, 25 June 1841 
U.S. to Jacob Blattner 

1 spyglass made by Franzenhofer, Munich 50.00 

Jacob Blattner made and sold an assortment of mathematical, optical, and 
physical instruments. In 1841, he moved his establishment from Chestnut to 
34 Olive Street, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 19, Churchville, Mo., 26 June 1841 
U.S. to Steamboat Monsoon 

Passage for one from St. Louis to Churchville 5.00 

2 deck passages for Chas. A. Geyer and C, Lambert [ ?] 4.00 
Freight on 8 packages merchandise .75 


For a note on Clement Lambert, see under voucher no. 3, third quarter, 

Voucher No. 20, Washington, 5 June 1841 
U.S. to Polkjnhorn & Campbell 

1 leather cover for sextant 3.50 

Polkinhorn and Campbell are listed as harness and trunk makers in the 
Washington directory for 1843. 


Voucher No. 21, Washingto?j, 20 June 1841 
U.S. to Jane Cummin gs 

Hire of 3 rooms and servant to attend same at 40.00 per 
month for 3 months, 20 March to 20 June 1841 120.00 

Third Quarter, 1841 

Voucher No. 1, Churchville , Mo., 20 July 1841 
U.S. to L. B. Mitchell 

For furnishing a wagon, 2 mules and driver for transporta- 
tion of party engaged in the Survey of the Des Moines 
River, from Churchville, Mo., to the trading post of the 
American Fur Co. in the Sac and Fox Indian country. 34.93 

For additional transportation of two men between same 
places who were likewise engaged in same Survey. 20.00 


Endorsed by JCF: "In both cases a customary allowance was made to defray 
expenses of wagon, horses, &c. during their return from the trading post." A 
man named L. B. Mitchell crossed the plains to California in 1850 in com- 
pany with A. W. Harlan, who was emigrating from southeast Iowa (harlan). 

Voucher No. 2, Churchville, Mo., 21 July 1841 
U.S. to Packesayso {SauJ{ Indian) 

For services as boatman for 21 days from 4 July to 24 July 
1841 @ .75 per diem 15.75 

Signed with Packesayso's mark; no witness. 

Voucher No. 3, St. Louis, 23, July 1841 
U.S. to Clement Lambert 

For services to the U.S. as engage on the Survey of the Des 
Moines River, 33 days @ 1.75 per diem, 23 June to 22 July 
1841 52.50 

For extra duty as cook for the party @ 500 per diem, 3 July 
to 20 July _8^ 


After serving JCF as engage and cook on the Des Moines River survey, 
Clement Lambert served on the 1842 expedition as a camp conductor; in 1845, 


he aided in preparations for JCF's third western expedition but did not ac- 
company it. Well known as a mountaineer and guide, he was about seventy- 
four when he died in Decatur City, Nebr. See his obituary in the St. Louis 
Missouri Republican, 8 March 1880. 

Voucher No. 4, St. Louis, 23 July 1841 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

22 June 

1 pair 4-pt. blue blankets furnished to Lt. J. C. Fremont on 
his expedition to the Des Moines River 12.50 

Voucher No. 5, St. Louis, 24 July 1841 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

For the following articles furnished to Lt. Fremont for ex- 
pedition to the Des Moines River: 

8 lbs. shot 1.00, 1 lb. pov^^der 1.63, salt 250 2.88 

36^ yds. bed ticking 13.69, 2 tin pans 1.25, 2 same 500 15.44 

Tin cups, tin kettle, fire steel .67 

{illegible^ 6.12 

8^ lbs. lead 1.06, 1 barrel flour 8.00 9.06 

65 lbs. flour 2.60, 139 lbs. pork 15.90 18.50 

paid for making tent 4.50 

1 dressed skin 1.00, 1 bear skin 2.00 3.00 

18 lbs. lard 2.25, 1 canoe 10.00 12.25 

18 days use of a mule 18.00, 18 days use of v^^agon 5.00 23.00 

5 lbs. sugar (iM, 20 lbs. flour 800, 8 lbs. lard 1.00 2.43 

transportation of party from mouth of the Des Moines to 

Sauk and Fox village 10.00 

paid Lt. Fremont 25.00 
hire of the following men : 

Packesayso 11.00 

Cameron for self & horse 20.00 

Vessar [Vauchard?] for services as pilot 36.00 

A. Netherson [.?] 24.00 


Filed with voucher no. 24 is a memorandum of 22 Feb. 1842 from JCF, 
explaining the lack of subvouchers for some of his expenditures and detailing 
once more his relationship with the American Fur Company through Pierre 
Chouteau, Jr. The memorandum is in Jessie Benton Fremont's hand, but 
signed by JCF. "The funds to defray the expenses of the Des Moines survey 


were deposited as usual in the Bank at St. Louis, & on leaving that place for 
the Des Moines river, I was furnished by the house of Chouteau & Co. with 
letters to the agent in the Indian country requesting him to furnish me with 
men & other necessaries. On my return to St. Louis at the close of the Survey, 
payment was made for the assistance obtained in men & provisions above, to 
the house of Chouteau & Co., & a voucher taken accordingly. . . ." The men 
named in the voucher are not further identified, though it is clear that "Vessar" 
operated the trading house on the Des Moines which JCF mentions in his 
report (our Doc. No. 37). Two brothers who were traders, Louis and Charles 
Vauchard, are frequently mentioned in the David Adams Papers, MoSHi. 

Voucher No. 6, St. Louis, 24 July 1841 
U.S. to Charles A. Geyer 

For services rendered the U.S. as an engage and boat hand 
on the Survey of the Des Moines River from 22 June to 22 
July, 31 days @ 1.50 per diem. 46.50 

To amount expended in purchase of provisions for party dur- 
ing march from Churchville, Mo., to the Indian agency on 
the Des Moines 1-50 


Voucher No. 7, Washington, 19 Aug. 1841 
U.S. to f. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered the U.S. as superintendent of North 
Western Surveys, from 1 to 31 July 1841, 31 days @ 8.00 
per diem 248.00 

Voucher No. 8, Washington, 19 Aug. 1841 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered the U.S. as superintendent of North 
Western Surveys, from 1 to 30 June 1841, 30 days @ 8.00 
per diem 240.00 

Voucher No. 9, Washington, 20 Sept. 1841 
U.S. to Jane Cummin gs 

To hire of 3 rooms and servant at 40 per month, 3 months 
from 20 June to 20 Sept. 1841 120.00 

Endorsed by J. J. Abert with the explanation that Secretary of War Poinsett 
had approved the hire of the rooms. 


Fourth Quarter, 1841 

Voucher No. 1, Springfield, Mass., 22 Oct. 1841 
U.S. to Wm. Bond & Son 

For a new detent spring, new ruby pellet, adjusting and 
cleaning a silver pocket chronometer 20.00 

Voucher taken by Capt. W. H. Swift, Corps of Topographical Engineers, 
who was then paid by JCF. A manuscript business directory of Springfield 
for 1820-53, in the possession of the Springfield Library and Museums As- 
sociation, shows no listing for William Bond & Son. We cannot connect this 
firm with William Cranch Bond (1789-1859), who had a private observatory 
in Dorchester, Mass., before moving to Cambridge in 1839 to establish the 
Harvard Observatory. 

Voucher No. 2, Washington, 20 Oct. 1841 
U.S. to A. D. Melcher 

To taking down, repairing, and moving drawing table 2.70 

A. D. Melcher not identified. 

Voucher No. 3, Washington, 13 Dec. 1841 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered to the U.S. as superintendent of Sur- 
veys West of the Mississippi from 1 Aug. to 30 Nov, 1841, 
122 days @ 8.00 per diem 976.00 

Voucher No. 4, Washington, 13 Dec. 1841 
U.S. to ]. N. Nicollet 

For traveling expenses incurred in the following journey, 

performed under the direction of the Secretary of War: 

From Washington to New York, 225 mi. 22.50 

To Albany, 151 mi. 15.10 

To Oswego via Syracuse, 172 mi. 17.20 

To Kingston and return, 120 mi. 12.00 

To Niagara, 120 mi. 12.00 

To Buffalo, 26 mi. 2.60 

To Chicago round the northern lake, 1000 mi. 100.00 
Exploration of the south end of Lake Michigan and return 

to Chicago, 325 mi. 32.50 

Chicago and Illinois Canal to Peru, 102 mi. 10.20 


Exploration of the Illinois coal region, 415 mi. 41.50 
From Peru to St. Louis, 400 mi. 40.00 
Exploration of the American Bottom and shale mineral re- 
gion in the state of Missouri, 380 mi. 38.00 
From Meramec to White River on the Mississippi, 624 mi. 62.40 
To the mouth of Ohio River, 462 mi. 46.20 
To Wheeling, 887 mi. 88.70 
To Washington, 264 mi. 26.40 


Endorsement by Albert M. Lea: "It appears that there was no written 
authority or orders given to Mr. Nicollet for the travelling charged for in the 
within account, and it has been submitted to me, as the late Chief Clerk of the 
War Department, for a statement of the intentions or directions of the late 
Secretary of War on the subject. A representation made to the Secretary of 
War that Mr. Nicollet's duties would not necessarily require his presence in 
the city during the Autumn of 1841, and that it was important to the com- 
pleteness of the work then under preparation by him, the Secretary in per- 
son and through me directed Mr. Nicollet to perform a tour of observation 
and exploration. ... It was intended by the Secretary at the time that all Mr. 
Nicollet's necessary expenses should be paid by the government. . . . Wash- 
ington, D.C., Feby. 21, 1842." 

Albert M. Lea, mentioned briefly in our note for Doc. No. 30, served for 
a time as chief clerk of the War Department under Secretary John Bell, and 
was also Acting Secretary for six weeks under President Tyler. 

Voucher No. 5, Baltimore, 18 Dec. 1841 
U.S. to Auguste Richard 

1 Buquet's [}] chronometer 320.00 

Auguste Richard was a watchmaker on Fayette Street, Baltimore, in 1842; 
by 1850 his name had disappeared from the directories. 

Voucher No. 6, Washington, 24 Dec. 1841 
U.S. to Lemuel Williams 

To making slat for drawing table 1.00 

Lemuel Williams not identified. 

Voucher No. 7 , Washington, 10 Jan. 1842 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services to the U.S. as superintendent of Surveys West 
of the Mississippi, for 31 days, 1 Dec. to 31 Dec. 1841, @ 
8.00 per diem 248.00 


Voucher No. 8, Washifigton, 9 Oct. 1841 
U.S. to Baltimore & Ohio Railroad 

For transportation and charges on the box containing geo- 
logical specimens from the Des Moines River, from Balti- 
more to Washington. .75 

Charges paid in Baltimore 2.62 

The vouchers presented above are in DNA-217, Third Auditor's Reports 
and Accounts, Acct. Nos. 12245, 13327, and 14900. 

37. Fremont to J. J. Abert 

Washington City D.C. April 14th 1842 


Herewith I have the honor to enclose a brief Report, accompanied 
by a Map,^ of the Survey of the Des Moines river, from the Racoon 
Fork to the mouth, made conformably to your directions in July 
1841. Very respectfully Sir your Obdt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
2d Lieut. Topi. Engineers 


In pursuance of orders received at this city in June 1841, I left on 
the 27th of the same month the small settlement of Churchville," on 
the west Bank of the Mississippi, a few hundred yards below the 
mouth of the Des Moines river. The road for about nine miles lay 
over a luxuriant prairie bottom, bordered by the timber of the Fox 
& Des Moines Rivers,^ & covered with a profusion of flowers, among 
which the characteristic plant was Psoralia Orobrychis [scurf pea]. 
Ascending the Bluffs & passing about two miles through a wood 
where the prevailing growth was Quercus nigra mixed with im- 
bricaria [Q. marilandica, black jack oak, and Q. imbricaria, shingle 
oak], we emerged on a narrow level prairie, occupying the summit 
of the ridge between the Fox & Des Moines rivers. It is from one and 
a half miles to three miles in width, limited by the timber which 
generally commences with the descent of the river hills. Journeying 


along this, the remainder of the day & the next brought us at eve- 
ning to a Farm house on the verge of the prairie about two miles & a 
half from Chiquest [Chequest] Creek. The route next morning led 
among, or rather over the river hills, which were broken, wooded & 
filled with the delicate fragrance of the Ceanothus [redroot], which 
grew here in great quantities. Crossing Chiquest about four miles 
from the mouth, we forded the Des Moines at the little town, Port- 
land, about ten miles above the mouth of the creek. The road now 
led along the northern bank, which was fragrant & white with elder 
[Sambucus canadensis L.] & a ride of about twelve miles brought us 
to the little village of lowaville, lying on the line which separates the 
Indian lands from those to which their title has already been extin- 
guished. After leaving this place we began to fall in with parties of 
Indians on horseback, & here and there scattered along the river 
bank, under tents of blankets stretched along the boughs, were In- 
dian families, the men lying about smoking & the women engaged 
in making baskets & cooking — apparently as much at home as if 
they had spent their lives on the spot. Late in the evening we arrived 
at the Post of Mr. Phelps, one of the partners of the American Fur 
Company.^ Up to this point there are three plants which more es- 
pecially characterize the Prairies & which were all in their places 
very abundant. The Psoralia Orobrychis, which prevailed in the bot- 
tom near the mouth of the Des Moines, gave place on the higher 
prairies to a species of casalia,'' which was followed, on its disappear- 
ance farther up, by Parthenium integrifolium. The Prairie bottoms 
bordering the river were filled with Lyatris pycnostachya & a few 
miles above Portland, on the north Bank of the river, were quanti- 
ties of Liatris resinosa mingled with Rudbackia digitata. 

On the Bluflfs here the growth was principally Quercus alba, inter- 
spersed with tunctoria & macrocarpa & sometimes carya alba. All 
these now and then appear in the bottoms, with carya oliveformis 
& Tilia. Ulmus americana & fulvia, Betula rubra with ostrya virgi- 
nica & Gymnocladus canadensis are found on the bottom land of the 
creeks. Populus canadensis & Salix form groves in the inundated 
river bottoms, & the Celtis occidentalis is found every where. 

Having been furnished with a guide & other necessaries by the 
uniform kindness of the American Fur Company, we resumed our 
journey on the morning of the first of July & late in the evening 
reached the house of Mr. Jameson,*' another of the Company's Posts, 


about twenty miles higher up. Making here the necessary prepara- 
tions, I commenced on the morning of the third, a survey of the 
river valley. 

A canoe with Instruments & Provisions & manned by five men, 
proceeded up the river while in conformity to Instructions which 
directed my attention more particularly to the Topography of the 
Southern side, I forded the river & proceeded by land. The char- 
acter of the river rendered the progress of the boat necessarily 
slow & enabled me generally to join them at night, after having 
made during the day a satisfactory examination of the neighbouring 
country. Proceeding in this way we reached the Racoon Fork ' on 
the evening of the ninth of July. I had found the whole region 
densely & luxuriantly timbered. From Mule Creek to the Eastward 
as far as Chiquest the forests extend with only the interruption of a 
narrow prairie between the latter & Soap Creek. The most open 
country is on the uplands bordering Cedar River, which consists of 
a prairie with a rich soil, covered with the usual innumerable flowers 
& copses of hazel & wild plum. This prairie extends from the mouth 
of Cedar river to the top of the Missouri dividing ridge, which is 
here at its nearest approach to the Des Moines river, the timber of the 
Chariton or Southern Slope, being not more than twelve miles dis- 
tant. From this point to the Racoon Fork the country is covered with 
heavy & dense bodies of timber, with a luxuriant soil & almost im- 
penetrable undergrowth. 

Acer saccharinum of an extraordinary size, Juglans cathartica, & 
nigra, with Celtis crassifolia,^ were among the prevailing growth, 
flourishing as well on the broken slopes of the bluffs as on the up- 
lands. With the occasional exception of a small prairie shut up in 
the forests, the only open land is between the main tributaries of the 
Des Moines, towards which narrow strips of prairie run down from 
the main ridge. The heaviest bodies lie on the three rivers where it 
extends out to the top of the main ridge, about thirty miles. On the 
northern side of the Des Moines the ridge appeared to be continuously 
wooded, but with a breadth of only three to five miles as the streams 
on that side are all short creeks. A very correct idea of the relative 
quantity & disposition of Forest land & Prairie will be conveyed by 
the rough sketch annexed [not printed]. 

Having determined the position of the Racoon Fork, which was 
one of the principal objects of my visit to this country, I proceeded 


to make a survey of the Des Moines river thence, to the mouth. In 
the course of the survey which occupied me until the twenty second 
of July, I was enabled to fix four additional astronomical positions, 
which I should have preferred had time permitted, to place at the 
mouth of the principal tributaries. 

From the Racoon fork, to its mouth, the Des Moines winds a cir- 
cuitous length of two hundred & three miles through the level & rich 
alluvium of a valley a hundred & forty miles long & varying in 
breadth from one to three & sometimes four miles. 

Along its whole course are strips of dense wood, alternate with 
rich prairies entirely beyond the reach of the highest waters, which 
seldom rise more than eight feet above the low stage. Acer eriocar- 
pum ^ which is found on the banks of such rivers as have a gravelly 
bed, is seen almost constantly along the shore, next to the salix and 
populus canadensis, which border the water's edge. 

The bed of the river is sand & gravel & sometimes rock, of which 
the rapids generally consist. All of these which presented themselves, 
deserving the name, will be found noted on the accompanying map 
& two of the more important are represented on a large scale. After 
these, the most considerable rapid above the Great Bend is at the 
head of the island above Keokuck's village. The bend in the river 
here is very sharp, the water swift, with a fall of about one foot, & a 
bottom of loose rocks with a depth of two feet at the lowest stage. 
At the mouth of Tohlman's creek^*^ is a rocky rapid used as a ford, 
whose depth at low water is only one foot. The rapid of the Great 
Bend,^^ ^ miles below Chiquest creek has a fall of twelve inches & 
so far as I could ascertain had formerly a depth of eighteen inches 
at low water. A Dam has been built at this place & the river passes 
through an opening of about forty feet. Another dam has been built 
at a rapid twelve miles lower down, where the river is six hundred 
& fifty feet wide. The fall, which I had no means to ascertain cor- 
rectly was represented to me as slight, with a depth of eighteen 
inches at lowest water. Four & a half miles lower down, at Farming- 
ton,^" another dam & mill are in course of construction, but the rapid 
here is inconsiderable & the low water depth greater than at the 
other two. 

I regret that I had neither the time nor the Instruments requisite, 
to determine accurately, the velocity & fall of the river, which I esti- 
mated at six inches per mile making a total fall of about one hun- 
dred feet from the Racoon to the mouth. It is three hundred & fifty 


feet wide between the perpendicular banks at the mouth of the Ra- 
coon, from which it receives about one third its supply of water & 
which is two hundred feet wide a little above the mouth. Its width 
increases very regularly to over six hundred feet at Mr. Phelp's post, 
between which, & seven hundred feet it varies until it enters the 
Mississippi bottom near Francisville^^ where it becomes somewhat 
narrower & deeper. At the time of my visit, the water was at one of 
its lowest stages, & at the shallowest place above Cedar river, known 
as such to the Fur Company boatmen, I found a depth of twenty 
inches. The principal difficulties in the navigation, more especially 
above the Cedar consist in the sand-bars. These, which are very 
variable in position, sometimes extend entirely across the river & often 
terminate abruptly, changing from a depth of a few inches, to eight & 
twelve feet. From my own observations, joined to the information 
obtained from Mr. Phelps who has resided about twenty years on 
this river & who has kept boats upon it constantly during that period, I 
am enabled to present the following, relative to the navigation, as 
data that may be relied upon. 

Steamboats drawing four feet water, may run to the mouth of 
Cedar river from the 1st of April to the middle of June, & keel boats 
drawing two feet, from the 20th of March to the 1st of July, & those 
drawing twenty inches again from the middle of October to the 20th 
of November. Mr. Phelps ran a Mississippi Steamer to his post, a dis- 
tance of eighty-seven miles from the mouth, & a company are now 
engaged in building one to navigate the river. From these observa- 
tions it will be seen that this river is highly susceptible of improve- 
ment, presenting no where any obstacles that would not yield read- 
ily & at slight expense. The removal of loose stone at some points, & 
the construction of artificial banks at some few others, to destroy 
the abrupt bends, would be all that is required. The variable nature 
of the bed & the velocity of the current would keep the channel 
constantly clear. 

The Botany & Geology of the region visited, occupied a consider- 
able share of my attention. Should it be required by the Bureau these 
may form the subject of a separate report. In this I have noticed the 
prevailing growth & characteristic plants, & those places at which 
coal beds presented themselves will be found noted on the map. 
Very Respectfully Sir Your Obdt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont. 
2d. Lt. Topi. Engineers. 


Table of Distances. 

Miles Miles 
















From Racoon Fork to Upper 3 Rivers [North R.] 
Upper 3 Rivers to Middle 3 Rivers [Middle R.] 
Middle 3 Rivers to Lowest 3 Rivers [South R.] 
Lowest 3 Rivers to Red Rock Rapids 
Red Rock Rapids to White Breast River 

[White Breast Creek] 
White Breast River to Eagle Nest Rapids 
Eagle Nest Rapids to English River^'* 
English River to Cedar River [Cedar Creek] 
Cedar River to Vessar's Trading House, 

A. F. C. 17 94 

Vessar's Trading house, A.F.C. to Phelp's 

Trading House, A.F.C. 22 116 

Phelps T, H., A.F.C. to Soap Creek 
Soap Creek to Shoal Creek [Lick Creek] 
Shoal Creek to Dam at Rapid of the 

Great Bend 
Dam at Rapid of the Great Bend to 

Second Dam 
Second Dam to Indian Creek 
Indian Creek to Sweet Home [ ? ] 
Sweet home to [St.] Francisville landing 
Francisville's landing to Sugar or 

Half breed Creek 
Half Breed Creek to the Mouth 

ALS-JBF, RC (DNA-77, LR). Now that John and Jessie are married, the 
phrase "autograph letter, signed" becomes a rather vague term. Jessie now 
begins the lifetime task of writing nearly all of JCF's letters; she does not 
hesitate to sign them "J. C. FVemont" and let the recipient assume they are 
in her husband's hand. She will even certify Army vouchers, at a later time, 
and sign his name to the certification. Our solution is to coin a symbol, ALS- 
JBF, meaning a letter purportedly written and signed by JCF but actually 
produced in its entirety by Jessie Benton Fremont. Where variants are signifi- 
cant, they will be noted. 

1. JCF is referring to the large map drawn to a scale of 1:200,000 and 
labeled, "A Survey of the Des Moines River from the Racoon Fork to the 
Mouth Made in July 1841 by Lieut. J. C. Fremont, Corps Topi. Engineers." 
The original is in the cartographic records of DNA-77, designated as map 
Q7-1. It is not reproduced here. 

2. A village no longer extant, between Alexandria, Mo., and Keokuk, Iowa. 




















3. The Fox enters the Mississippi from the west, just below the Des Moines. 
The Des Moines is a major river, draining a large portion of the state of 
Iowa and entering the Mississippi below Keokuk, Iowa. All of JCF's survey 
was made in the state of Iowa. 

4. A trading house near the Indian village headed by Keokuk, titular 
leader of the Sauk and Fox tribes. William Phelps was in charge of this one, 
and his brother Sumner had a similar establishment in Kansas. For Indian 
complaints against William, and against P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company, see 
Annals of Iowa, ser. 3, 15:256-57. Listed as residing in Clark County, Mo., 
he was one of the creditors of the confederated Sauk and Fox tribes at a treaty 
signed with the Indians 11 Oct. 1842 (ibid., 12:335-81). 

5. Cacalia tuberosa, Indian plantain. }CF adopted tree names from Michaux, 
North American Sylva. Other plants mentioned in this paragraph and 
the next include: Parthenium integrijolium, wild quinine; Liatris pycno- 
stachya and Liatris spicata var. resinosa, blazing star; Rudbec\ia sp., cone- 
flower; Quercus alba, white oak; 0. velutina, black oak; Q. macrocarpa, bur 
oak; Carya ovata, shagbark hickory, or C. glabra, pignut hickory; C. illi- 
noensis, pecan; Tilia americana, basswood; JJlmus amencana, American elm; 
JJ . rubra, slippery elm; Betula nigra, river birch; Ostrya virginiana, ironwood; 
Gymnodadus dioicus, Kentucky coffee tree; Populus deltoides, eastern cotton- 
wood; Salix, willow; Celtis occidentalis, hackberry. 

6. We have not identified Mr. Jameson, but he must surely turn up some 
day in the Chouteau or American Fur Company papers if the name is correct. 
JCF's map shows "Vessar's" trading house about where Jameson's would be, 
near present Ottumwa, Iowa, and the vouchers show a payment to a man 
named Vessar fVauchard?], first name not given. 

7. The Raccoon River joins the Des Moines from the west within the city 
limits of Des Moines, Iowa. 

8. For sugar maple, Acer saccharum, JCF followed Michaux in "Acer 
saccharinum"; Juglans cinerea, butternut, and /. nigra, black walnut; Celtis 
occidentalis, hackberry. 

9. Michaux's name for A. saccharinum, silver maple. 

10. Perhaps Holcomb Creek, entering the Des Moines from the west in 
Van Buren Countv, Iowa. 

11. This bend is a convolution of the Des Moines in Van Buren County. 
The town of Keosauqua is located about midway in the so-called Great Bend. 

12. In Van Buren County. 

13. Now called St. Francisville, in Clark County, Mo. 

14. Not identified. The present English River is farther north, the largest 
affluent of the Iowa. 

38. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogrl. Engineers 
Washington, April 25. 1842 

You will repair as soon as practicable to Fort Leavenworth in order 
to make a Survey of the Platte or Nebraska river, up to the head of 


the Sweetwater. Having been already employed on such duties, and 
being well acquainted with the kind of Survey required, it is not 
necessary to enumerate the objects to which your attention will be 

After having completed the Survey of the Platte, should the sea- 
son be favorable, you will make a similar survey of the Kansas. 
These duties being completed, you will return to this place in order 
to prepare the drawings & report. 

You will submit without delay the requisite estimate for these 
duties. Very Respectfully, 

J. J. Abert. C. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:325). Apparently it was now clear to all concerned 
that the ailing Nicollet, originally scheduled to lead this survey, no longer 
had the strength for such an undertaking. 

Going to the head of the Sweetwater would lead JCF to South Pass on the 
Continental Divide, and plainly this is one object of the orders. No other set 
of orders has been found in letterbooks of the bureau. But in later years, 
Thomas Hart Benton claimed that the original orders had been too restrictive 
and that JCF himself had found it necessary to get them altered: "Col. Abert, 
the chief of the corps, gave him an order to go to the frontier beyond the Mis- 
sissippi. That order did not come up to his [JCF's] views. After receiving it 
he carried it back, and got it altered, and the Rocky Mountains inserted as an 
object of his exploration, and the South Pass in those mountains named as a 
particular point to be examined, and its position fixed by him" (benton [1], 

39. }. J. Abert to Fremont 


Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington, April 25th 1842 

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your estimate of funds for 
the Survey of the Platte or Nebraska & Kansas rivers, and to inform 
you that a requisition has been this day made in your favor for 
$4000, to be remitted to you at St. Louis Missr. Very Respectfully, 

J. J. Abert CL. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:325-26). JCF's estimate, bearing the same date, is 
registered in the bureau files but not found. The register entry states he esti- 
mated the cost of his survey of the Platte and Kansas at $4,000. 




40. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington, May 9th 1842 

I have just received your letter of the 5th instt.; there are two 
errors in it, which it is proper to bring to your notice. 

1st. You have no authority to purchase instruments: There is an 
order prohibiting purchases of this kind without a requisition for 
the same being previously submitted & approved. 

2nd. You have no authority to draw for money, and without 
special authority for drawing; the practice is strictly prohibited. 

Presuming you to be unacquainted with these matters, the pur- 
chase of the chronometer is approved and the draft will be paid; 
but hereafter you must not expect similar indulgence. Very re- 

J. J. Abert. C. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:342). Entered in the bureau's register but not found, 
JCF's letter of 5 May in which he writes that he has purchased a box 
chronometer and drawn on Abert for $310. Also registered is the transmittal 
of the draft by Arthur Stewart, on 7 May, asking that the amount be re- 

41. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington, May 26th 1842 

You stand charged on the books of this office with the following 
instruments recvd. from Cpt. [W. G.] Williams, and no return has 
been received from you since: 

1 Sextant 

1 Theodolite 

2 Surveyor's compasses 


2 Boxes drawing instruments 

Your immediate attention to this matter is. desirable. Very respect- 

J. J. Abert, CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:375). JCF may have had these instruments since 
his work with WilHams on the Cherokee survey in 1838. In military parlance, 
a "return" is a periodic inventory of equipment, supplies, or personnel. 

42. Contract with Honore Ayot 

[26 May 1842] 

Before the [blanl{] the undersigned was present. 

Honore Ayot who has voluntarily committed himself and com- 
mits himself by these presents to /. C. Fremont at this time and ac- 
cepting for his first assignment to leave this post in the capacity of 
voyageur-hunter in order to make the trip, both out and back, and 
to winter during the space of some months more or less, to go on 
the Missouri and into the mountains, free upon his return to St. 
Louis, subsisting on Indian corn or other sustenance obtained in the 

And to have well and duly taken care of, on the road and once at 
the said place, all merchandise, furs, victuals, utensils, and all things 
necessary for the journeys, trading, and wintering: to serve, obey 
and faithfully execute all that the said /. C. Fremont, or all persons 
to whom the said Fremont authorizes by these presents to transfer 
this commitment, will order him to make his profit legal and honest, 
avoid doing harm, warn him of all things touching his interest 
which come to his knowledge, work in the posts, cities, villages and 
countrysides not considered as wilderness, so required and gener- 
ally all that a good [blanl{\ should, and is obligated to do, with- 
out providing for the carrying out of trade for his own person, 
neither with the whites nor with the Indians, nor absenting himself 
nor leaving the said service, under the penalties provided by the laws 
and the loss of his wages. 

This commitment thus made, for and depending upon the sum 


of twenty piastres, money of the United States, that the said /. C. 
Fremont or to whomever this commitment is transferred promises 
and binds himself to lease and pay to the said [blan]{\ one month 
after its term has passed. 

Made and dispatched at St. Louis the twenty-sixth of May in the 
year one thousand eight hundred forty-two and signed, with the 
exception of said [blanf{\ having declared not to know how to sign, 
has made his usual mark after cognizance taken 

In the presence of the witness 

M. S. Cerre^ his 

HoNORE X Ayot 

DS (CLSM). The original is in French. A printed form, obviously in com- 
mon use for the employment of voyageurs, etc. In the translation above, 
penned-in words are shown in italics. For a facsimile reproduction of the 
original, see wheat [2]. No biographical information is available for Honore, 
but probably a brother or a cousin was Alexis Ayot, who was with JCF on the 
expedition of 1843-44 and lost a leg as the result of a gunshot wound (Ru- 
dolph Bircher to JCF, 15 Sept. 1844, Sen. Doc. 329, 29th Cong., 1st sess., 
Serial 476). 

1. For a note on Michel Sylvestre Cerre, see under Doc. No. 27. 

43. Benjamin Clapp to Andrew Drips 

Saint Louis 30 May 1842 
Dear Sir. 

This will be presented by our friend Lieut. J. C. Fremont of the 
U. S. Army, now on his route to the interior to make certain Sur- 
veys, &ct. by direction of the Government, whom we beg to intro- 
duce to your acquaintance. 

As this Gentleman will need some person acquainted with the 
country, the mode of voyaging &c. we have recommended that he 
avail of your good services for that purpose, & trust you will consent 
to accompany him — With this view, & to that effect, we wrote you 
a few lines the other day by the men who went up with Mr. Fre- 
mont's Horses. 


You will of course make your own arrangements as regards com- 
pensation &c. — Very truly yours &c. 

P. Chouteau Junr. & Co. 
Ben J. Clapp 

ALS, RC (MoSHi — Drips Papers). The letter was directed to Drips at 
Westport; the earlier one mentioned in the second paragraph is not on file. 
Benjamin Clapp (1790-1849) was one of the associates of P. Chouteau, Jr., 
and Company, having come to St. Louis in 1838. He had earlier been affiliated 
with John Jacob Astor and, at Mackinac, with Crooks, Abbott & Company 
(St. Louis Weekly Reveille, 2 July 1849). Andrew Drips (1789-1860) was 
born in Westmoreland County, Pa., and after service in the War of 1812 had 
migrated to St. Louis. After connections with several firms, he may have 
worked for a time as clerk for the Missouri Fur Company. By 1822, he was 
associated with fur trader William H. Vanderburgh. His career in the Mis- 
souri country was a long one. JCF planned to hire him but, while en route up 
the Missouri and before seeing Drips, he met and hired Christopher Carson 
instead. Probably Drips would have hesitated to go anyway, as he had an 
application for special Indian agent for the Upper Missouri pending with the 
government. He learned of his appointment 29 Aug. 1842, while JCF was in 
the field (anderson, 292-96). See also sunder. For a note on Carson, see p. 

44. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington, July 8th 1842. 

Your letter of the 25th May submitting an estimate for four thou- 
sand dollars has been duly received. Such estimates are inadmissible. 
It is necessary to state in some detail the objects of the estimate, that 
the Bureau may be able to judge of the propriety of the expenditures 
contemplated, and whether or not they are kept strictly within the 
orders which you have received and the duties which have been as- 
signed to you, as it is only to that extent that your expenditures can 
be approved. Very respectfully, 

J. J. Abert. CI. C.T.E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:417). In a letter registered by the bureau but no 
longer present, JCF had written that his original estimate of $4,000 for the 
survey would not be sufficient, and asked for an additional $4,000. 


45. J. J. Abert to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington, July 28th 1842 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
17th instt.^ 

Lieut. Fremont has not furnished this office with the least inti- 
mation, direct or indirect, of any advances made by you. I have no 
doubt the advances was made, upon your statement, and am fully 
sensible of your frequent kindnesses in this respect. But Lieut. Fre- 
mont should not have called upon you, as there was a sufficiency of 
funds to meet his wants, and he was supplied with 4000$ more on 
the 25th of May, but it was not sent, for reasons which were com- 
municated to him by letter and because it was known that he would 
be absent if it were sent.^ 

The only duties assigned to him were the Surveys of the Kansas 
and the Platte, and if he makes these cost the amount of his requisi- 
tions, it will be nearly equal to much larger expeditions, and much 
more extensive Surveys in that quarter. 

As soon as Lt. Fremont returns and makes a proper application 
for funds it will be complied with. Believe me to be 

J. J. Abert, CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77,LS, 5:440-41). 

1. This letter, calling the Topographical Bureau's attention to the necessity 
of providing means to meet the expenses of JCF's expedition upon his re- 
turn to St. Louis, was entered in the register but not found. 

2. Abert seems to mean that the money was allocated on the basis of JCF's 
request of 25 May, but held up until the need for it could be clarified. 


46. J. J. Abert to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

Bureau of Topogrl. Engineers 
Washington, August 1st 1842 

Please to inform me when you think Lt. Fremont will return to 
St. Louis, and what amount will be required to enable him to close 
his accounts. Very respectfully, 

J. J. Abert, CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:443). In a letter registered but not found, the Chou- 
teau firm replied 11 Aug. that JCF was expected back in St. Louis by 1 
Oct., and that he would need about $4,000 to close his accounts. 

47. J. J. Abert to Fremont 


Bureau of Topi. Engineers 
Washington Aug. 13th 1842 

I have to inform you that a requisition has been this day made in 
your favor for 3000$ to meet your payments on account of the Sur- 
veys of the Platte & Kansas river. Very respectfully, 

J. J. Abert. CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 5:455). Abert has trimmed by $1,000 JCF's estimate of 
additional funds needed to complete his survey — an estimate confirmed by 
P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company which had provided the money. 

48. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington D. C. Novr. 16th 1842 


I transmit to you by to-day's Cars a Collection of Plants which I 
have made during the present year in the course of a Geographical 
Exploration to the Rocky Mountains. The region, over which the 


collection was made, extends from the 39th to the 43d. degree of 
North Latitude & from about the 95th to the 112th degree West 
Longitude. The labels which are affixed to the plants will enable us 
to assign them their exact localities on a Topographical Map of the 
country which I am now engaged in constructing, based upon numer- 
ous Astronomical positions, & the Barometrical observations which 
I succeeded in to the top of the Mountains, will give us their limits. 
In their present state I am afraid you will find it almost impossible 
to fix localities from the labels & I regret that I have no means at 
present to render them more clear. 

I think that you will already have heard from Professor Jeager^ 
on this subject. It will be necessary for me to annex a catalogue of 
the plants to my report, which will be required for the use of the Con- 
gress early in the Session. Mr. Jeager informed me that it would suit 
your present engagements to give the necessary time to this examina- 
tion & that he felt assured you would furnish me with a Catalogue in 
a few weeks. Should these plants possess any interest for you, I trust 
that they will be an apology for the liberty I have taken. It is prob- 
able that next year I shall be sent to continue these Explorations to 
the Pacific, & I shall be very much gratified if you will take some 
interest in my researches & enable me to give to any thing I may find 
interesting in your science, the authority of your name. 

The Box will be left to your order at Mr. Ernest Berthoud's,^ No. 
8 Pine St. When your leisure will permit, I shall be happy to hear 
from you & in the mean time, am Very Respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieut. Topi. Engineers 

ALS, RC (NNNBG). Endorsed, "Reed. Nov. 18." As far as we are aware, 
this is the earliest surviving letter written after JCF returned from his expedi- 
tion. Now that he is back in Washington, it would seem logical to present his 
report of the expedition at this point: but there are compelling reasons to 
present the documents in chronological order — and JCF did not complete his 
report and submit it to Abert until 1 March 1843. It is presented as our Doc. 
No. 61, beginning on p. 168. 

John Torrey (1796-1873), professor of chemistry at Columbia and Prince- 
ton and "father" of the New York Botanical Garden and the United States 
National Herbarium, was a pioneer taxonomic botanist. His name is often 
linked to that of another well-known botanist, Asa Gray, because the two 
worked for long years to classify and describe plant specimens brought back 
from the West. They also collaborated on a monumental . flora of North 
America. See torrey & gray, and for biographies of Torrey, see rodgers and 
c. c. robbins. 


1. Benedict Jaeger (1789-1869) was professor of German and Italian, and 
lecturer on natural history, at Princeton (wertenbaker, 121, 127; meisel, 
3:455, 456, 604). 

2. Ernest Berthoud not identified. 

49. John Torrey to Asa Gray 

New York, Novr. 18th 1842 
My dear friend — 

A few days ago I reed, a letter from Jaeger — formerly of Prince- 
ton, giving me an account of some plants collected towards the 
Rocky Mountains by a Lt. Fremont in the U. S. service. He advised 
the gentleman to send the whole to me — & this morning a letter 
arrived from the gentleman himself — informing me that the box was 
dispatched from Washington on the 16th. It is by this time in N. 
York. The specimens were collected, he says "the present year, in the 
course of a geographical exploration to the Rocky, Mountains. The 
region over which the collection was made, extends from the 39th to 
the 43d degree of N. Latitude & from the 95th to the 112 deg. W. 
Longitude. The labels which are affixed to the specimens will en- 
able us to assign them their exact localities on a topographical 
map of the country which I am now engaged in constructing, based 
upon numerous Astronomical positions, & the Barometrical observa- 
tions which I succeeded in to the top of the mountains, will give us 
their limits." He writes something like a foreigner, but he signs him- 
self J. C. Fremont, Lt. Topog. Engineers. He expects, next year, to 
continue the exploration to the Pacific & offers me what he collects. 
So here is a chance for you to get seeds &c. How would it do to send 
a collector with him. Leavenworth^ wishes to go somewhere — & 
this place might suit him — but not us — in all respects. When I get 
the box, I will send you the Composhae & such duplicates of the 
other (if there be any) as you may desire for your own herbm. 

• • • • 

Yours affectionately, 


ALS, RC (MH-G). Asa Gray (1810-88), professor of natural history at 
Harvard from 1842 until his death, was a founder of the National Academy 


of Sciences and a regent of the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to the 
Flora he produced with Torrey, he is best known for a work entitled Manual 
of the Botany of the Northern United States. First published in 1848, it is 
still in use today, in revised form, as Gray's Manual of Botany. For a bi- 
ography, see DUPREE. 

1. Melines C. Leavenworth (1796-1862), a botanist and Army surgeon who 
had collected in the South during his military career. He had resigned from 
the Army in 1840 and was therefore available "to go somewhere" (heitman; 
RODGERs, 125, 155, 175-76, 210, 298). 

50. Fremont to Joseph N. Nicollet 

Washington, D.C. Nov. 27th 1842 
My Dear Mr. Nicollet 

I have deferred writing to you until I should have something to 
say decisive of the fate of the Map^ — immediately after the receipt of 
yours of the 10th [not foufid] I called on Col. A. & in an incidental 
conversation he informed that he intended to publish the Map for 
the present Congress, but seemed to have no objection whatever to 
engraving the leading Ridges & prominent features of the Country, 
& said he would send for Mr. Stone & see if sufficient time remained 
for the Execution of that part of the work. After the lapse of some 
days I received a note from him, directing me to call on Mr. Stone. 
The latter informed me that it is entirely impossible to engrave any 
part of the Topography, & that it had been determined to publish 
what had been engraved, on the common thin paper, for the com- 
meficement of this Session ; & that an estimate for the Engraving of 
the Topographical part would be submitted & if the money could be 
obtained, that work would be executed in the coming year. In an- 
swer to my enquiry, why the work had not been executed during 
the past summer, he told me that you would not permit the Mississippi 
Sources nor the Southern part of the Map to be engraved, & that it 
was impossible for him to engrave one portion of the Map without 
the other, so that you had prevented the engraving of the Topog- 
raphy — This is in substance what passed & will put you clearly in 
possession of the position of affairs. He gave me one of the sheets for 
correction, which I made & returned to him the next day. I also cor- 
rected the Missouri at Leavenworth, & think that I could improve 
that river if I had here the large Book which contains the survey; I 


could then compare places with my late survey, which on the scale 
of the map is not possible, or rather is very difficult.^ Write to me on 
these subjects & think if I can be of any service to the Map — Now of 
other afTairs, I have the pleasure to tell you that I have a fine little 
daughter,^ eleven days old to-day. Jessie is sitting up & has got 
through with her sickness very well indeed. The family send all 
their regards to you, Col. Benton proposes to go to Baltimore, prob- 
ably in the morning & told me that he will call to see you. Can you 
have an occultation calculated for me so that I can get the result next 
week ? If so I will send the data immediately & be very much obliged 
to you. Give our regards to Dr. Ducaters"* family & write me as soon 
as you can — Most truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (PHi — Gratz Collection). On the back of the letter in Benton's 
hand: "With the best wishes of Mr. Benton, and the hope that Mr. Nicollet 
will soon be able to see his friends in Washington." Addressed to the care of 
Dr. J. T. Ducatel on Franklin Street, Baltimore. 

1. Two versions of the Nicollet map were produced: one dated 1842, printed 
at a scale of 1:600,000 and distributed to the Senate in an edition of 300 
copies; a second one, completely recalculated and re-engraved, done at a 
scale of 1:1,200,000 to accompany the 1843 Report. The 1842 map is quite 
scarce; we note one copy in DNA and two in DLC and have made no effort 
to locate others. The 1843 map is reproduced in the Map Portfolio. It is also 
available with Nicollet's Report and in a version reprinted from the original 
plates by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1965. 

For manuscript maps in the cartographic records of DNA-77 which pro- 
vided copy for the engravers, see: 

U.S. 41. "Sources of the Mississippi and North Red River," based on 
Nicollet's surveys of 1836 and 1837. One sheet. 

U.S. 131. Two maps bearing the same file number, each in four sheets, one 
map measuring 75 X 61 inches and the other 78 X 62^ inches, each entided 
"Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River." 

2. The "large Book" is the chart of the Missouri. JCF's "late survey" is his 
1842 expedition to South Pass. 

3. Elizabeth Benton Fremont, born 13 Nov. 1842 in Washington. 

4. Julius Timoleon Ducatel (1796-1849), a friend of Nicollet's who was 
later to become state geologist of Maryland. With J. H. Alexander he made a 
new map and geological survey of the state (meisel, 2:553-57, 619). 


51. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

[5 Dec. 1842] 

• • • • 

Saturday afternoon 

The parcel of Compositae &c. of the Far West has only just come 
in. I have looked over the Compos, with some excitement. Some few 
new, and the old help out Nuttall's^ scraps &c. very well. Tetra- 
dymia's [horsebrush] this side of the Rocky Mts.!! Some new Sen- 
ecio's [ragworts], especially from the Mountain near the snow line. 
How I would like to botanize up there! I will give you an account of 
these Compos, soon, and send back the spec, as you desire, selecting 
one for myself where it will bear it. Pray remember me in this 
matter as regards the other families of this collection. 


Monday morning 

I meant to have sent this today in a parcel containing Carey's 
Compos. (Senecio's & Thistles) from Nuttall: but I will retain them 
longer, as I shall want to compare some of Nuttall's bits of Arte- 
misia's [wormwood] &c. — with those of this new collection. I hope 
to send it next week. Is the Lieutenant's name Fremont? 

I have just looked over the parcel of Lupinus, Rosa & Oenothera.'^ 
I know nearly all, except the Lupines. If I do not send sooner, I shall 
hope to bring them all back to you sometime next month. . . . 

• • • • 

I wish we had a collector to go with Fremont. It is a great chance. 
If none are to be had, Lieut. F. must be indoctrinated , & taught to 
collect both dried spec. & seeds. Tell him he shall be immortalized 
by having the 999th Senecio called S. Fremonti, that's pos., for he has 
at least two new ones. . . . This letter you see has no beginning, as 
I have scribbled down memoranda for a day or two past, as they oc- 
curred to me. ... I am deep among thistles, which are thorny. . . . 

With kind remembrances to all at Princeton — when you see them 
— I remain. Yours affectionately, 

A. Gray 
Cambridge, 5th Dec. 1842 

ALS, RC (NNNBG). Addressed, "Prof. John Torrey, Medical College, 67 
Crosby St., New York." 

1. Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859), naturalist, botanist, and ornithologist, had 
explored along the Missouri, Arkansas, and Red rivers, and with the Wyeth 
expedition of 1834-35 had gone to the mouth of the Columbia. He became 
professor of botany at Harvard and curator of its botanical garden. Much of 
JCF's botanizing on his 1842 expedition was in an area already covered by 
Nuttall, as the catalogue of plants (p. 286) will indicate. 

2. John Carey, a good friend of Asa Gray's, had come from England in 
1830 to dabble in business and botany. He had botanized with Gray in 
Virginia and North Carolina in 1841, and worked on the sedges and willows 
for Gray's manual. After a fire that destroyed his herbarium and took the life 
of his son, he returned to England (dupree, 54, 97, 172, 201, 327). 

3. Lupine or blue bonnet, wild rose, and evening primrose (Oenothera). 

52. Fremont to J. C. Edwards 

Washington City, December 10, 1842 

It will be a reply to a greater part of the questions contained in 
your favor of the 7th, to say that the survey which I made of the Des 
Moines in July, 1841, was simply geographical, and principally to 
determine some astronomical positions, particularly at the mouth of 
the Rackoon Fork. Any examination, therefore, of the rapids, or 
other obstructions to the navigation, would be merely incidental; 
and to those within the territorial line more especially the rapids of 
the Great Bend, which had been made the subject of a particular 
survey, I gave very little attention. There are some 10 or 12 rapids in 
the space between the Rackoon Fork and the Great Bend, a distance 
of 145 miles. Of the two largest, the Eagle Nest and Red Rock 
rapids, you will find drawings on an enlarged scale on the map 
which accompanies my report; the former is 108 and the latter 90 
miles above the rapids of the Great Bend. At this last place, I esti- 
mated the perpendicular fall to be 12 inches; and it is very probable 
not less than two feet in 80 or 100 yards. The rapid at Lexington is 
two miles and 1,000 yards south of that at the Great Bend, and by the 
river 11| miles below. Heavy and continuous rains had occasioned a 
rise of some feet when I made the survey of the lower part of the 
river, and the rapid at Farmington, which is 15^ miles below that at 
the Great Bend, and 5\ miles south of it, was then scarcely a ripple, 
and below this point I remarked no rapids worthy the name. 


In the course of surveys on the western tributaries of the upper 
Mississippi, I found, among their numerous shoals, and in the lower 
part of their course, one to which was usually given the name of falls 
or rapids, by way of distinction. The "St. Peter's rapids," which form 
a serious obstruction to the navigation of that river, occur about 60 
miles from the mouth. Those of the Embarras river, of which there 
are two, about one mile apart, with a perpendicular fall of three feet 
each, are within the distance above mentioned from the mouth of 
the river. To this line of falls, extending across these rivers from 
north to south, and occasioned perhaps by a change in the formation, 
I supposed that the rapids at the Great Bend might belong. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieut. Top. Efigineers 

Printed, "Northern Boundary of Missouri," H.R. Doc. 38, at pp. 19-20, 27th 
Cong., 3rd sess., Serial 420. Democratic Representative John Cummins Ed- 
wards (1804-88) was from Missouri and served as governor in 1844 (biog. dir. 


Also printed in H.R. Doc. 38 are JCF's report of his survey; the report of 
W. Bowling Guion of 9 Oct. 1841 which came as a result of his instructions 
of 1 Dec. 1840 to make a survey of the Des Moines and Iowa rivers; and the 
report of Albert M. Lea, 19 Jan. 1839, to the commissioner of the General 
Land Office. The object of all this interest was the northern boundary of Mis- 
souri, which was in dispute because of the error of John C. Sullivan, a govern- 
ment surveyor, in marking in 1816 the boundaries designated in the Osage 
Indian treaty of 1808. A confusion of language and perhaps faulty knowledge 
of geography also was involved, as Congress had authorized the northern 
boundary to be the Sullivan line, describing it as passing through "the rapids 
of the river Des Moines." Missourians and lowans disputed for twelve years 
the meaning of the term: rapids in the Des Moines, or the better-known 
rapids in the Mississippi just above the mouth of the Des Moines? In 1849, 
the Supreme Court finally decreed that the old Sullivan line should stand. 

There is no evidence in our records to show that JCF's survey was instigated 
as a result of this dispute, but we suspect that it was — and that Senator 
Benton of Missouri was somehow involved in having the survey made — just 
as he surely must, of necessity, have been involved in the boundary dispute. 


53. Financial Records, 1842 

[31 Dec. 1842] 
First and Second Quarters, 1842 

Voucher No. 1, Washington, 11 Feb. 1842 
U.S. to Charles Preuss 

For services rendered to the U.S. as assistant draughtsman in 
the Topographical Bureau @ 2.60 per diem, 31 days from 
10 Jan. to 10 Feb. 1842 80.60 

Charles Preuss (1803-54), a German cartographer, had worked for Fer- 
dinand Hassler before joining Nicollet and JCF early in 1842. His association 
with JCF was to extend over many years, and he was to prove himself a 
highly skilled and conscientious mapmaker. He was not a happy or well- 
adjusted man — he hanged himself in 1854 — but the extent of his frequent 
miseries was not revealed until the translation and publication of his western 
diaries in 1958 (preuss). There he comes through as a dour traveler, unhappy 
with JCF, unhappy with hardship and inclement weather. Assuming that his 
diaries are in part catharsis, we can place some credence in JCF's own recol- 
lections of the man (memoirs, 70 and passim) as one who had served him 
willingly and well. Quotations from the Preuss diaries will appear as notes in 
this and subsequent volumes. Erwin G. and Elisabeth K. Gudde present the 
best available biographical sketch in their preface to his diaries. 

Voucher No. 2, Washington, 14 Feb. 1842 
U.S. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

1 sextant 120.00 

1 circle 150.00 

box, freight, etc. 2.00 


Voucher No. 3, Baltimore, 1 March 1842 
U.S. to James Green 

18 Aug. 1841 

1 mountain barometer repaired 6.00 

1 ditto 3.00 

1 ditto 3.50 

1 thermometer 1.50 

1 ditto .50 


2 leather cases for barometer 5.00 

20 Aug. 

repairing sextant, 3 shades, eyepiece, &c. 4.00 

Case for dipping needle 3.00 

23 Aug. 1841 

Strap for leather case .50 

25 Aug. 

1 hydrometer, Beaume 1.00 

1 March 1842 

repairing sextant, regraduating, &c. 18.00 

repairing horizon box ,50 

packing box .37^ 



Voucher No. 4, Washington, 25 March 1842 
U.S. to John A. Blake 

Repairing and binding 2 maps 4.25 

John A. Blake was often engaged by the government to bind books and 
official documents. He may be the same John A. Blake who, in the Daily Na- 
tional Intelligencer for 24 Dec. 1839, advertised himself as an auctioneer and 
commission merchant, with a variety of goods for sale at Centre Market 

Voucher No. 5, Washington, 25 March 1842 
U.S. to William King, Jr. 

Taking down and removing a large drawing table from the 
office of the Coast Survey, on 20 March 3.50 

Voucher No. 6, Washington, 28 March 1842 
V.S. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

1 Troughton sextant and case 88.00 

Voucher No. 7 , Washington, 1 April 1842 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered to the U.S. as superintendent of the 
Surveys West of the Mississippi for 90 days, 1 Jan. to 31 
March 1842, @ 8.00 per diem 720.00 


Voucher No. 8, Washington, 1 April 1842 
U.S. to Charles Preuss 

For services rendered the U.S. as assistant to J. N. Nicollet 
@ 2.60 per diem, 49 days from 11 Feb. to 31 March 1842 127.40 

Endorsed by JCF: "The Hon. J. C. Spencer, Sec. at War, authorized J. N. 
Nicollet to employ the above named Charles Preuss as assistant in his astro- 
nomical & other calculations & drawings." 

Voucher No. 9, Philadelphia, 21 April 1842 
U.S. to Wm. H. C. Riggs 

[ ] March 

Refitting the hook inside the main spring, resetting by brazing 
anew the cock diamond, polishing pivots, poising the bal- 
ance, cleaning, reducing, and ascertaining rate of Chro- 
nometer by Brockbank No. 739 15.00 

William H. C. Riggs, watchmaker and chronometer maker, was located in 
1847 at 126 S. Front Street and 13 Dock Street, Philadelphia. 

Voucher No. 10, Washington, 26 April 1842 
U.S. to Thomas R. Gedney 

1 Massey's patent log 40.00 

Thomas R. Gedney (d. 1857), a naval commander, lived on F Street N. 
near Nineteenth W., Washington. He had been an assistant in the Coast 
Survey and by direction of Ferdinand R. Hassler had surveyed New York 
harbor and discovered a new channel. 

Voucher No. 11, Washington, 27 April 1842 
U.S. to F. W. Naylor 

1 tin case for maps 2.62 

In 1843, Francis Naylor, a turner, was located at 4i Street W. near C Street 
S., Washington. 

Voucher No. 12, Washington, 28 April 1842 
U.S. to William Wiirdemann 

repairing and cleaning a sextant for J. N. Nicollet 5.50 

making 1| doz. silver and German silver draughting pens 2.70 

additions to a camera lucida 2.50 


German silver scale of /4o meters divided for Hoo,ooo 6.00 

20 spiral springs for chronometer box 1.50 


In 1846, William Wiirdemann was a mathematical instrument maker on the 
west side of Delaware Avenue, between B and C, in Washington. He had 
done much work for Hassler in the Coast Survey. 

Voucher No. 13, Washington, 28 April 1842 
U.S. to William Fischer 

7 ream Southworth's linen quarto, ruled 2.75 

4 lead pencils .50 

India rubber .06 

inkstand 75^, ink 190 .94 

sealing wax 25^, 1 stick India ink 370 .62 

2 cards Hayden's pens .75 

2 cards mapping pens 2.00 


Voucher No. 14, Washington, 29 April 1842 
U.S. to John A. Blake 

lining with cotton 10 sheets largest size drawing paper 12.50 

binding 1 small quarto volume in half morocco 1.00 


Voucher No. IS, Washington, 29 April 1842 
U.S. to Pol /{in horn & Campbell 

2 cases for instruments 7.00 

1 case for spyglass 1.00 


Voucher No. 16, New York,, 30 April 1842 
U.S. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

1 English nautical almanac 2.50 

1 new [. . .], new balance staff and cleaning chronometer 11.00 



Voucher No. 17, Washington, 30 April 1842 
U.S. to Charles Preuss 

For services rendered to the U.S. as assistant to J. N. Nicollet, 
@ 2.75 per diem for 30 days, 1 April to 30 April 1842 82.50 

Voucher No. 18, Washington, 30 April 1842 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered the U.S. as superintendent of the Sur- 
veys West of the Mississippi for 30 days, 1 April to 30 
April 240.00 

Voucher No. 19, Washington, 1 May 1842 
U.S. to William King, Jr. 

13 Oct. 1841 

mirror for camera obscura .75 

portable box to form the above 8.00 
30 April 1842 

packing box for instruments 11.00 

packing 6 instrument boxes 3.00 

1 pine table arranged to pack in box, for camp use 9.00 

packing the same in a box 1.50 

moving table to Coast Survey office 2.00 


Voucher No. 20, New York, 4 May 1842 
U.S. to Arthur Stewart 

1 first class 2-day London chronometer by French, No. 7810 300.00 
1 land-carriage outside box, with extra pillows, cushion, &c. 10.00 


In 1846, Arthur Stewart's firm, listed as "chronometers, merchant ex- 
change," was on William at the corner of Wall Street, New York. 

Voucher No. 21, New Yor\, 5 May 1842 
U.S. to American Fur Company 

1 three-breadths brown Russia sheeting tent 20.00 

Rect. by Ramsay Crooks as president of the company. 


Voucher No. 22, New Yor\, 5 May 1842 
US. to E. & G. W. Blunt 

3 May 

1 mountain barometer in leather case 35.00 

4 best thermometers in mahogany case, graduated to order 9.00 

2 lbs. best refined quicksilver 2.00, box and bottle 25(z! 4.25 


Voucher No. 23, New Yor\, 4 May 1842 
U.S. to A. Bininger & Co. 

6 lbs. Dresden chocolate 4.50 

Voucher No. 24, New YorI{, 5 May 1842 
U.S. to Horace H. Day 

1 air army boat or floater 150.00 

2 pieces India rubber cloth 39.98 
2 pots rubber composition 1.00 


Horace H. Day had opened a small factory at New Brunswick, N.J., to 
manufacture rubber fabrics in 1839. His interests soon conflicted with those of 
Charles Goodyear, who patented a vulcanization process in 1844. After a 
series of law suits, Day was permanently enjoined from further rubber man- 
ufacture in 1852. For JCF's unfortunate experiences with the rubber boat, see 
below, pp. 275-79. 

Voucher No. 25, New York,, 5 May 1842 
U.S. to Betijamin Pike & Sons 

1 mountain barometer 25.00 

1 leather case for same 2.00 

1 boat compass 3.00 


Benjamin Pike & Sons were opticians at 166 Broadway, New York. 


Voucher No. 26, New York,, 6 May 1842 
U.S. to Moore, Baker & Co. 

1 pair fine pistols in case 50.00 

powder, caps, &c. 1.00 


Moore, Baker & Co. had a gun and saddlery shop at 204 Broadway, New 

Voucher No. 27, Chicago, 15 May 1842 
U.S. to Frink Walker & Co. 

To furnishing an exclusive extra post coach for 2 persons and 

14 cases containing instruments from Chicago to Peru 50.00 

Frink, Walker, & Co. was a stage proprietor at the corner of Lake and 
Dearborn Streets, Chicago. 

Voucher No. 28, St. Louis, 25 May 1842 
U.S. to E. M. Buckingham 

For making 1 spirit gas field lamp 3.00 

E. M. Buckingham was a dealer in stoves and hollow- ware at 130 N. First 
Street, St. Louis. 

Voucher No. 29, St. Louis, 26 May 1842 
U.S. to Dinnies & Radford 

6 half-bound blank books 10.75 

1 doz. pencils, lead 1-25 

1 penknife -75 

1 card steel pens 1-00 

1 bottle black ink .62 

1 piece Indian rubber ^l^ 


Voucher No. 30, St. Louis, 26 May 1842 
U.S. to Hendrick Tisius 

2 pair ice shoes 10.00 
2 pair iron plates and heels with steel nails 4.00 

2 steel pins for sticks 



Hendrick Tisius not further identified. When the purchase of these items 


was questioned by the government auditors, JCF wrote in an accompanying 
explanation: "The articles in this account were for use among the ice-fields 
in the Survey of the Wind River Mts." 

Voucher No. 31, St. Louts, 27 May 1842 
U.S. to Carstens & Schuetze 

1 lb. Jamaica arrowroot .50 

1 lb. [. . .] .25 

3 oz. purg[ative] pills 4.50 

4 oz. laudanum .75 
3% 6 oz. pure quicksilver 8.00 
1 oz. iodine .75 

1 oz. nitric acid .38 

2 lbs. sulphur .50 
24 doses emetic 3.00 
24 doses Dover's pow^der 3.00 

2 lancets 2.00 


Voucher No. 32, St. Louis, 29 May 1842 
U.S. to Jacob Blatttier 

1 best quality French pocket compass 12.00 

1 German pocket compass 12.00 

1 common pocket compass 4.00 

1 best quality thermometer 9.00 

1 magnifying glass .75 

1 pair forceps .75 

1 magnet 1.50 


Voucher No. 33, Baltimore, 1 June 1842 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services to the U.S. as superintendent of the North West- 
ern Surveys for 31 days @ 8.00 per diem from 1 May to 31 
May 1842 248.00 

Voucher No. 34, Westport, Mo., 4 June 1842 
U.S. to the Steamboat Rowena 

3 June 

passage for 17 men from St. Louis to Westport 114.75 


freight on 468 lbs. 17.50 

freight on 3 kegs powder 1.50 

freight on 8 French carts [ ?] 24.00 


Voucher No. 35, St. Louis, 10 June 1842 
U.S. to C. & F. Chouteau 

Bought of Boone & Hamilton: 

1 double-barreled shotgun 35.00 

2 rifles 30.00 
1 coil rope 10.50 
6 halters 9.00 
12 tug ropes 3.00 
8 dressed deerskins 16.00 
12 boxes percussion caps 3.00 
6 twilled bags 6.00 
repairing guns 4.21 


This document is a subvoucher rendered at Westport on 15 June 1842. The 
main voucher is nearly illegible, but consists of sundries such as those shown 
in voucher no. 31 for the second and third quarters, 1842. One entry reads: 
"amount assumed to Boone & Hamilton, 158.71." The total is $503.00. 

Cyprian and Francis Chouteau, sons of Pierre Chouteau, Sr., by Osage 
mothers, together and separately maintained a number of posts on the Kansas 
River for trade with the Indians. One joint enterprise was "Four Houses," 
established between 1813 and 1821 at the site of Bonner Springs, Kan. In 
1825, the brothers built a post on the south side of the Kansas, about seven 
miles from Westport, Mo., and in 1828-29, Cyprian located a post for trade 
with the Delawares and Shawnees on the north side of the river, six miles 
west of the Missouri line. It was from this last house that JCF organized his 
first expedition, and it was also the main outfitting station for caravans en- 
gaged in the Santa Fe trade {Kan. State Hist. Coll., 9:573-74). 

Albert G. Boone, grandson of frontiersman Daniel Boone, had taken his 
family to Westport about 1838. With James G. Hamilton, his partner, he ob- 
tained a license in 1843 to trade with the Potawatomis, Weas, Ottawas, and 
Piankeshaws (barry, pt. 10, 29:153, pt. 12, 29:474-75). 

Voucher No. 36, Westport, Mo. Terr., 10 June 1842 
U.S. to P. M. Chouteau 

4 mules bought of L. Maxwell 160.00 

1 barrel sugar 286 lbs. 28.60 

1 sack coffee 188 lbs. 23.70 


to blacksmithing 6.95 

amount assumed to Boone & Hamilton 79.37 


A subvoucher is present for the purchase of sundries from Boone & Hamil- 
ton. JCF's endorsement explains that some of the purchases from that firm 
were personal items for his men, "but these bills did not reach my hands 
until after I had paid off my men, & I respectfully submit that the accidental 
loss may not fall upon me." 

P. M. Chouteau is probably Pierre Menard Chouteau, son of Francis Ges- 
seau Chouteau (b. 1797). He had settled in Westport. 

Voucher no. 6, third and fourth quarters of 1842 below, shows Maxwell 
employed as a hunter for 152 days on the expedition. Lucien Bonaparte Max- 
well (1818-75) was the grandson of trader Pierre Menard of Illinois, was re- 
lated to the Chouteaus, and was a friend of Kit Carson. Probably in 1844, 
he married the heiress of the vast Beaubien-Miranda tract in New Mexico, 
and eventually became its sole owner. He would accompany JCF on his ex- 
pedition to California in 1845 and play a role in the conquest of California 
( DUNHAM [2]; PEARSON, 10). DUNHAM says that Maxwell had accompanied the 
Nicollet expedition of 1839 and already was acquainted with JCF; but his 
name does not appear in the vouchers for that expedition. A voyageur named 
Maxime Maxwell was present on the 1838 expedition, which may be the 
source of some confusion. 

Voucher No. 37, Kansas Ford, Mo. Terr., 15 June 1842 
U.S. to Louis Pepin 

20 lbs. coffee 5.00 

a quantity of pumpkins and beans 3.00 


Signed with Pepin's mark and witnessed by C. Lambert. Pepin not further 
identified. The name may be "Papin," and possibly he is the brother of 
Joseph Papin, who operated a ferry at the site of Topeka from 1840. 

Subvoucher, New Yor\, 6 May 1842 
U.S. to James R. Chilton 

1 set of Daguerreotype apparatus 40.00 

25 polished Daguerreotype plates 37.50 

1 pocket microscope .75 


This document is handled as a subvoucher because it is not carried in the 
regular abstract of vouchers for the quarter. Dr. James R. Chilton, a physician 
and chemist at 263 Broadway, New York, supplied daguerreotype apparatus 
to JCF for the expeditions of 1842 and 1843-44. The device was still very 
new, and there is little doubt that JCF was among the first to attempt to 
photograph the West with such equipment. Some of the lithographs appearing 


in the Reports and Memoirs are undoubtedly based upon daguerreotypes or 
on negatives copied by Mathew Brady and others. Apparently no originals 
have survived. 

Charles Preuss, in a belittling mood as always, had no patience when JCF 
tinkered with the gadget. "Yesterday afternoon and this morning Fremont 
set up his daguerreotype to photograph the rocks; he spoiled five plates that 
way. Not a thing was to be seen on them. That's the way it often is with 
these Americans. They know everything, can do everything, and when they 
are put to a test, they fail miserably" (2 Aug. 1842, preuss, 32). When JCF 
tried again on 5 Aug., Preuss wrote, "Today he said the air up here is too 
thin; that is the reason his daguerreotype was a failure. Old boy, you don't 
understand the thing, that is it" (preuss, 35). 

Third and Fourth Quarters, 1842 

Voucher No. 1, Fort John, Platte River, 17 July 1842 
U.S. to Registe Larente 

For services as voyageur 48 days @ 1.00 per diem, 27 May to 
13 July 1842 48.00 

Signed with Larente's mark and witnessed by C. Lambert. Larente ap- 
parently was the only employee who chose to leave the expedition when JCF 
outlined the dangers which lay ahead (see p. 226). 

Voucher No. 2, Fort Bissonette, Laramie For1{, 1 Sept. 1842 
U.S. to Sibille, Adams & Co. 

20 July 

1 tomahawk 1.00 

3 Aug. 

A. Lucier and his mule 8 days (^ 2.00 16.00 

Joseph Bissonnette for guide and interpreter, 8 days @ 13.00 

per diem 104.00 

1 horse paid to an Indian 36.00 

1 Sept. 
12 cups coffee 18.00, 6 cups sugar 9.00 27.00 

Less 1 cow and calf 50.00 


Jean Sibille and David Adams had been licensed to trade with the Indians 
in the vicinity of Laramie as early as 1841, and by Jan. 1842 had started a post 
they called Fort Adams, apparently upstream from Fort John. They then 
purchased a new establishment of Lancaster P. Lupton's, called Fort Platte. 


Thereafter, one hears no more of Fort Adams, and the new owners had 
finished construction of Fort Platte by Oct. 1842. A fragmentary diary kept 
by Adams records finding the fort "oil finished and oil the boys well on 27 
October." He also refers to another partner in the firm, John Richard; to "mr. 
besonat [ Bissonette]"; and "mr. shatraw [Chartrain]," a clerk. 

Dale L. Morgan, who has supplied the above information from the Adams 
Papers, MoSHi, also reports that A. Lucier had been an employee of the 
Sibille & Adams firm. Joseph Bissonette (1818-94), born in St. Louis, had 
come to the Platte region at the age of eighteen and married into the Sioux 
tribe. He worked variously as a company trader and free trader, and as an 
interpreter for Indian agents. He is said to have worked as late as 1875 in 
persuading Sioux chiefs Red Cloud and Spotted Tail to relinquish the Black 
Hills in Dakota Territory (j. d. mc dermott [2]). 

Voucher No. 3, Bellevue, Mo. Terr., 4 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to P. A. Sarpy 

An almost illegible voucher for goods received between 26 Sept. and 3 
Oct. 1842, including food, the use of four horses and men for four days, etc. 
The largest item is for a mackinaw boat, $166.00. Total charges, $348.28. In 
explaining the cost of such items, JCF wrote: "In that country we often found 
a difficulty in getting anything to eat, & were obligfd to take what we could 
get at any cost." Peter A. Sarpy (1805-65), brother of John B. Sarpy and a 
skillful barterer with the Indians, was in charge of the post at Bellevue, just 
north of the junction of the Platte and Missouri rivers. For a biography, see 


Voucher No. 4, St. Louts, 17 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Clement Lambert 

For the following articles furnished to Lt. Fremont's party 
of 25 men on their voyage down the Missouri River, from 
Bellevue to St. Louis: 

apples 1.25, 3 tin cups 25^, 1 lantern 1.00, coffee mill 1.25 3.75 

eggs and milk 1.25, chickens 1.37^, pork 1.00 3.62^ 

beef 2.00, 2 forks 25^, butter 500, milk 250 3.00 

turnips 37^0, coffee 2.00, sugar 1.00, apples 1.00 4.37^ 

bread 1.75, milk 500, eggs 750, coffee 750 3.75 

chickens 1.25, honey 250, milk 37-^ 1.87^ 

poultry 2.00, butter 750, eggs 62^0, honey 750 4.25 

milk 500, whiskey 1.37^, bacon 3.00 4.87^ 

sugar 1.25, bread 1.00, whiskey 500 2.75 

chickens, eggs, milk, potatoes, cabbage 1.75 

onions 500, whiskey 1.00, candles 750, poultry 2.00 4.25 


eggs 750, butter 1.25, milk 50^, bread 1.00 3.25 

whiskey 2.00, bread 1%, coffee 1.25, milk 750 4.75 

eggs 1.00, whiskey 1.00 2.00 


Voucher No. 5, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Benjamin Clapp 

1 barometer 35.00 

Voucher No. 6, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Lucien Maxwell 

For services as hunter @ 1.66^ per diem for 152 days, from 1 

July to 31 Oct. 1842 234.75 

1 horse 70.00 

2 mules 90.00 


Voucher No. 7, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to /. B. L'Esperance 

For 12 days' time and expenses going to Lexington, Mo., to 
collect a draft for $3,000 drawn by the U.S. on the Receiver 
of Public Moneys at Lexington in favor of Lt. Fremont 66.25 

Endorsed by JCF: "I was not able to cash the above draft in St. Louis, & was 
obliged to hire a trustworthy person to proceed to Lexington as it was neces- 
sary to pay off my men as soon as possible." J. B. L'Esperance not further 

Voucher No. 8, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Jean B. Lefevre 

For service as voyageur @ 81|0 per diem, 153 days from 
26 May to 26 Oct. 1842. 125.07 

Signed with Lefevre's mark and witnessed by F. V. Pfister. Pfister was a 
clerk on Laurel Street in St. Louis, probably working for P. Chouteau, Jr., and 



Voucher No. 9, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to ]ean B. Lefevre 

Transportation of 19 horses and a party of men from St. 
Louis to Chouteau's Landing, 300 mi. 38.00 

Signed with Lefevre's mark and witnessed by B. Clapp. 

Voucher No. 10, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Benjamin Potra 

For services as voyageur @ 66^ per diem for 153 days, 26 
May to 26 Oct. 1842 100.98 

Signed with Potra's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. Sarpy (1798- 
1857) was one of the most active and influential citizens of St. Louis, a partner 
of Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and an original projector of the Missouri Pacific 
Railroad (scharf, 1:580-83). 

Voucher No. 11, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Louis Guion 

For services as voyageur @ 87^^ per diem for 102 days, 

20 July to 31 Oct. 1842 89.25 

2 horses @ 70.00 each 140.00 


Signed with Guion's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. 

Voucher No. 12, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to ]ean Baptiste Dumes 

For services as cook @ 75^ per diem for 153 days, 26 May 
to 26 Oct. 1842 114.75 

No further information on Dumes; voucher not signed or witnessed. 

Voucher No. 13, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Basil Lajeunesse 

For services as voyageur @ 75jz! per diem for 153 days, from 

26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 114.75 

1 overcoat lost in the Platte River, in the service of the U.S. 5.00 


Signed with Basil Lajeunesse's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. La- 
jeunesse also accompanied JCF on his second expedition as far as Fort Hall, 


and on the 1845 expedition. He was killed by the Modocs at Klamath Lake 
in 1846. A brother, Francois, who had been one of Sir William Drummond 
Stewart's employees on his journey of 1837, was with JCF in 1843-44. 

Voucher No. 14, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Franfois Tessier 

For services as voyageur @ 62^0 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 95.621 

Signed with Tessier's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. No further 
information on Tessier. 

Voucher No. 15, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Benjamin Cadot 

For services as voyageur @ 62^0 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 95.62^ 

Signed with Cadot's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. A man named 
Benjamin Cadot, thirty-seven years of age and of Canadian birth, was listed 
in the census of 1860 at the Yankton agency (see South Dakota Historical 
Collections, 10:436). 

Voucher No. 16, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Joseph Clement 

For services as voyageur @ 66\(^ per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 101.75 

Signed with Clement's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. Clement not 
further identified. 

Voucher No. 17, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Daniel Simonds 

For services as voyageur @ 62^0 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 95.62^ 

Signed with Simonds' mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. The David 
Adams Papers, MoSHi, contain a contract between Sibille & Adams and 
"Daniel Simons," in which Simons signs on as a "common hand" for a Rocky 
Mountain expedition. He signed by mark in Aug. 1841, came down from the 
mountains with Adams in the spring of 1842, and evidently signed on with 
JCF shortly thereafter. 


Voucher No. 18, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Leonard Benoist 

For services as voyageur @ 750 per diem for 153 days, 26 
May to 26 Oct. 1842 114.75 

Benoist not further identified. 

Voucher No. 19, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Christopher Carson 

For services as guide and hunter @ 100.00 per month for 

3 months, from 1 June to 1 Sept. 1842 300.00 

1 mule 40.00 


Signed with Carson's mark and witnessed by F. V. Pfister. The acquisition 
of Christopher Carson (1809-68) as a guide was a stroke of luck for JCF and 
the beginning of a long friendship between the young explorer and the ex- 
perienced Scotch-Irish trapper and Indian fighter. Although at this time he 
was unable to write his name, he could converse in French, Spanish, and sev- 
eral Indian languages. Later he would share honors as a guide with his 
former fellow trapper, Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick, on JCF's sec- 
ond expedition, and as a member of the third venture he would participate 
in the conquest of California. After the Mexican War and the refusal of the 
Senate to confirm his commission in the regular Army, Carson settled in 
Taos, New Mexico Territory, served as Indian agent for the Utes, and dictated 
the story of his life to John Mostin, probably at the persuasion of Jesse B. 
Turley. For biographical background, see sabin and carson. 

Voucher No. 20, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Michel Marly 

For services as voyageur @ 62^0 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 95.62^ 

Michel Marly, born in St. Louis in 1820; no further information. 

Voucher No. 21, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Baptiste Bernier 

For services as voyageur @ 1.00 per diem for 153 days, from 
26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 153.00 

Signed with Bernier's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. It is probably 
to Baptiste Bernier that Lucien Fontenelle referred when he wrote Andrew 
Drips from Fort William, 1 Aug. 1835: "young Provost, Bernier, Bellaire and 
others are hired as trappers" (MoSHi — Drips Papers). 

Voucher No. 22, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Honore Ayot 

For services as voyageur @ 830 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 126.99 

Signed with Ayot's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. For Ayot's con- 
tract with JCF, see Doc. No. 42. 

Voucher No. 23, Fort John, Platte River, 2 Sept. 1842 
U.S. to Franfois Latulipe 

For services as voyageur @ 1.00 per diem for 63 days, from 

29 June to 1 Sept. 1842 63.00 

For one horse 30.00 

12 buffalo robes for pack horses 25.00 


Signed with Latulippe's mark and witnessed by C. Lambert. 

Voucher No. 24, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Franfois Badeau 

For services as voyageur @ 1.00 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 153.00 

Signed with Badeau's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. Badeau, who 
also went on the second expedition and was described by JCF as being one 
of his "most faithful and efficient men," was accidentally killed by his own 
gun, 23 May 1844, as the expedition was returning home and was buried on 
the banks of the Sevier River. See p. 697. 

Voucher No. 25, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Louis Menard 

For services as voyageur @ 81|0 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 125.07| 

The name Louis Menard is so common that it is difficult to identify this 
man, but he is probably the same Louis L. Menard who contracted his 
services as a boatman on the upper Missouri in May 1852 (MoSHi — P. Chou- 
teau Maffitt Collection). Louis Menard was also on Fremont's second expedi- 


Voucher No. 26, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to C. Lambert 

For services as camp conductor @ 1.85|^ per diem for 
153 days, 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 278.07 

Voucher No. 27, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Joseph Ruelle 

For services as voyageur @ 66^0 per diem for 153 days, 
26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 101.75 

Signed with Ruelle's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. The name 
appears often in the records of Chouteau's American Fur Company (vols. X 
and GG) from 1835 to 1845, in the upper Missouri area. According to g. r. 
BROOKS he had been with Robert Campbell in 1833 and may also be the Joseph 
Ruel who married Jeanne Pichereau on 3 July 1838 in St. Louis. Ruelle ob- 
tained a judgment in St. Louis, 21 Nov. 1844, of $40.75 against Fremont for 
a gun lost on the expedition (DNA-217, T-135, Statement of Differences on 
Settlement of Fremont's Accounts, 6 June 1849, No. 7624, p. 6). 

Voucher No. 28, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Auguste Janisse 

For services as voyageur @ 87^0 per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 133.87^ 

Signed with Janisse's mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. The name ap- 
pears as Auguste Janis in the CjG ledger of P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company. 
PREUss and his editors call him Johnny Auguste Janisse, and the editors say 
he was the only Negro or mulatto among JCF's men on this expedition. He 
was also with Stansbury in 1849. 

Voucher No. 29, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Moise Chardonnais 

For services as voyageur @ 75^ per diem for 153 days, 
from 26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 144.75 

Signed with Chardonnais' mark and witnessed by John B. Sarpy. No fur- 
ther identification of Chardonnais. 

Voucher No. 30, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Raphael Proue 

For services as voyageur @ 75)^ per diem for 153 days, from 
26 May to 26 Oct. 1842 114.75 

The faithful Raphael Proue | Proulx, Proux] would continue with JCF on 


his second and third ventures as well as the disastrous fourth expedition of 
1848 and would freeze to death 9 Jan. 1849 in the San Juan Mountains of 
southwest Colorado. 

Voucher No. 31, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

8 French carts 280.00 

10 Spanish saddles 60.00 

10 bridles 7.50 
30 halters 37.50 
30 white oak stakes 30.00 

11 saddle blankets 8.25 
8 sets harness for shaft 100.00 
8 sets harness for French carts 68.00 
4 Spanish saddles 28.00 

3 bridles and martingales 9.75 
1 3-pt. blue blanket 10.00 
1 piece Russia sheeting 13.00 
1 lb. patent thread, 1.00, 1 bundle cord, 75^ 1.75 
1 blank memorandum book .50 

1 box tobacco, 148 lbs. 14.80 
10 lbs. Vermillion 30.00 

4 doz. fire steels, 7.00, 1 gross Indians awls 2.20 9.20 
6 scalping knives 18.00, 500 gun flints 2.50 20.50 

2 buffalo tongues, 12.00, 6 hams, 100 lbs., 6.25 18.25 
310 lbs. common bacon 12.40 

2 barrels pork 15.00, 2 barrels flour 10.00 25.00 
4 barrels pilot bread 16.00, 1 barrel butter crackers 5.00 21.00 
50 lbs. coffee 7.75 
6 lbs. tea 6.00 
100 lbs. sugar and keg 7.75 
23 lbs. rice and keg 1.69 

3 loaves white sugar, 11^ lbs. @ 20^ 2.30 
1 keg 50 proof port wine, 4 gals. 11.50 

1 keg brandy, 4 gallons 11.50 
10 lbs. common soap 1.00 

2 lbs. castile soap .75 
100 lbs. bar lead 5.00, 50 lbs. gunpowder 15.00 20.00 
1 bag shot 1.75, 1 ball twine 250, 2 doz. tent pins 750 2.75 


11 yds. Russia sheeting 4.37 

spades 2.50, 1 coffee mill 1.50 4.00 

J doz. mustard 3.00, 11 lbs. sperm candles 5,50 8.50 

6 lbs. assorted nails 600, 1 keg tar 1.00 1.60 

1 can 100 proof spirits of wine, 4 gals. 4.13 

J doz. matches .25 

3 reams wrapping paper 7.50 
1 file 250, 1 pair nippers 1.00, 2 doz. spoons 750 2.00 
1 piece canvas for cart covers, 33| yds. 5.03 

1 box macaroni 5.38 

4 lead lines 2.50 
3 bands for bacon 1 .87 
3 sheet iron kettles 6.60 

2 tin kettles 1.50 

2 tin pans 1.00, 1 doz. tin plates 1.50 2.50 
1 doz. cups 630, 1 coffee boiler and 1 lantern 1.00 1.63 
6 knives and forks 1.25, 1 lb. pepper 160, 2 augers 880 2.29 
1 drawing knife 750, 1 hand saw 1.25 2.00 
1 hatchet 1.50, 3 Collins axes, 3.75 5.25 

3 balls twine 750, 1 teakettle 1.00, 1 ball lampwick 250 2.00 
1 bag salt 400, 1 pineapple cheese 1.25 ' 1.65 
1 oven and lid 1.25 
1 frying pan .75 
paid for making tent 15.00 

5 lbs. saleratus 1.00 
1 can linseed oil, 2 gals. 4.00 
10 lbs. Spanish brown paint 1.00, 1 brush 1.12 2.12 

1 rifle given to Preuss 20.00 

2 mosquito bars 8.00 
1 powder horn 1.25 
drayages 1.50 


Commission 48.83 


Endorsed by JCF: "At the time when this expenditure was incurred I had 

not yet received sufficient funds & as the advanced season of the year did 
not permit me [to] delay the setting out of the expedition, I had recourse to 
the house of Chouteau & Co. who advanced me money, transacted, my busi- 
ness & charged a commission." 


Voucher No. 32, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 

\7 horses and 2 mules 970.62 

13 mules 520.00 

transportation of the above 103.75 


Voucher No. 33, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Bent, St. Vrain & Co. 

3 mules 135.00 

2 horses 50.00 

bunting for flag 25.00 

5 lb. coffee 10.00 

1 comb -50 

1 piece rope 1-QQ 


Bent, St. Vrain & Co., with a branch post (Fort St. Vrain) on the South 
Platte and Bent's Fort on the Arkansas, ranked next to P. Chouteau, Jr., and 
Company in the amount of business transacted during this period. The busi- 
ness included trading with the Indians and raising horses and mules. 

Voucher No. 34, St. Louis, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to J. & S. Hawken 

For splicing gun stock 1-50 

fly on lock -50 

cleaning double-barreled gun -75 

hind sight on rifle -50 


Voucher No. 35, Washington, 1 Nov. 1842 
U.S. to Charles Preuss 

For transportation of 13 boxes containing instruments for 

surveys from Washington to New^ York 2.37^ 

from New York to Buffalo 6.2 ^ 

from Buffalo to Chicago 3.27^ 

from Chicago to St. Louis 3.37^ 



Voucher No. 36, Washitigton, 31 Oct. 1842 
U.S. to Charles Preuss 

For services rendered to the U.S. as assistant to Lt. J. C. 
Fremont in the survey of the Platte and Kansas rivers for 
184 days, from 1 May to 1 Nov. 1842, @ 3.00 per diem 552.00 

Voucher No. 37, Washington, 24 Nop. 1842 
U.S. to Thomas W. Burch 

for making 1 drawing table and shelves 7.00 

Thomas W. Burch not further identified. 

Voucher No. 38, Washington, 1 Dec. 1842 
U.S. to Charles Preuss 

For services rendered to the U.S. as assistant to Lt. J. C. Fre- 
mont in constructing maps of surveys west of the Missis- 
sippi for 30 days, from 1 to 30 Nov. 1842 90.00 

Voucher No. 39, Baltimore, 5 Dec. 1842 
U.S. to J. N. Nicollet 

For services rendered to the U.S. as superintendent of Sur- 
veys West of the Mississippi for 92 days, from 1 Aug. to 
31 Oct. 1842, @ 8.00 per diem 736.00 

Voucher No. 40, St. Louis, 28 Dec. 1842 
U.S. to Osea Harmiyo 

For services as voyageur @ 50<z' per diem for 113 days, from 9 
July to 31 Oct. 1842 36.50 

Signed with Harmiyo's mark and witnessed by Hfenry] R. Brant. The 
spelling is phonetic for Jose Armijo, a young Spaniard hired at Fort St. Vrain. 
See below, pp. 204-5. Henry B. Brant, the nineteen-year-old son of Lieut. 
Col. Joshua B. and Sarah Benton Brant, of St. Louis, accompanied the expedi- 
tion as far as Fort Laramie — together with John Randolph Benton, the twelve- 
year-old brother of Jessie. Here the two young men were left because of 
possible encounters with hostile Indians. In the fall, when the expedition 
returned to the settlements, JCF sold at public auction in Bellevue much of 
the equipment that was still intact — such as carts, harnesses, horses, mules, 
rifles, and saddles — and it was Henry B. Brant who later swore to the correct- 
ness of the $910 bill of sale (see Bill of Sale, DNA-217, T-135, 9 Feb. 1843). 


Voucher No. 2, St. Louis, 16 Jan. 1843 
U.S. to Joseph Bougar 

For services as voyageur @ $1.00 per diem, for 144 days, 
from 9 June to 31 October 1842 144.00 

Signed with Joseph Bougar's mark and witnessed by H. B. Brant. Bougar 
is not listed in JCF's reports or the Memoirs as being a part of the expedi- 
tion; yet he must have joined just as the party was ready to leave Cyprian 
Chouteau's trading house on the Kansas River. An order of William Kenceleur 
to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company, to pay Bougar |82.00 indicates that he was 
at the Vermillion Post [Kansas] on 11 May 1842 (MoSHi — P. Chouteau 
Maffitt Collection). 

All the above documents are in DNA-217, Third Auditor's Reports and Ac- 
counts, Acct. No. 16962, except voucher nos. 35 and 36 in the first and second 
quarters, no. 31 and no. 40 in third and fourth quarters, and the subvoucher 
to Chilton, all of which are on roll No. 1 of DNA microfilm T-135 — a 
special consolidated file of JCF accounts. 

54. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

Monday Morning [Feb. 1843], Cambridge 
My Dear Friend 

I conclude to send you a small parcel instead of a letter. Enclosed 
is a hasty determination of the Fremont plants now in my hands. I 
found ripe seeds of the first two of the list, which I hope to grow. 
Both are worthy of being figured, although the first only is showy. 

I found Hooker's^ letter [not found] dated so far back as Nov. 10, 
and send it for your perusal, I think some arrangement such as he 
desires may be made respecting the Antarctic collections. The Ore- 
gon and Califn. I hope will somehow tumble into our hands. Please 
send back his letter (by mail if you are not sending a parcel) early 
next week, as I must answer it on the 1st prox. . . . 

Engelmann writes about his friend Dr. Lindheimer, who wants to 
collect in Texas &c. — and offer plants for sale, at $8-10 per hundred. 
he Sm I to vouch for generic names. — advertise in Silliman. — I shall 
write to him on the subject, securing that all shall pass thro' our 
hands. I think I will advise him to send him to Rky. Mts. with some 
of the parties that will be sure to be going if the Oregon bill 
passes. As he is a Doctor — a pretty good botanist, I guess, and makes 


very good specimens of the right kind — flowers — fruit &c. — why not 
recommend him to Fremont & Col. Abert, and get him a place? I 
think we cannot do better. If you think so please act upon the sug- 
gestion without delay. The more collectors we can get into the field 
the better, Buckley" & all. 

• • • • 

Your affectionate, 

A. Gray 


1. Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865), director of Kew Gardens in 
London and a highly respected English botanist. He had published a well 
known work on North American botany, Flora Boreali- Americana (London, 

2. Persons mentioned in this paragraph include Dr. Ferdinand Jakob Lind- 
heimer (1801-79), a German botanist who was visiting in St. Louis. He had 
fought in the war for Texan independence and, encouraged by Engelmann, 
was about to return to Texas on a collecting expedition (geiser). Benjamin 
Silliman (1779-1864) was publisher of the ArHerican Journal of Science and 
Arts, a pioneer work of its kind in the United States. Samuel Botsford Buck- 
ley (1809-83), botanist and field naturalist, later became state geologist of 
Texas. Gray held Buckley in low esteem (particularly for daring to publish 
new species, some considered valid today, on his own!) and his remark 
twitches with feeling. 

Asa Gray had proposed that Lindheimer be sent to the Rockies and Oregon 
for further collecting, possibly with JCF. "Fremont will not take Geyer; but I 
believe he wants some one. The interesting region (the most so in the world) 
is the high Rocky Mountains about the sources of the Platte & thence South!!" 
(Gray to Engelmann, 13 Feb. 1843, MoSB). Gray's enthusiasm for western 
flora contributed much to botanical knowledge of the region, but it was not 
until 1872 that he was able to go to the Rockies himself and see the vegetation 
that he had studied for a lifetime. 

55. J. J. Abcrt to Thomas H. Benton 

Bureau of Topographical Engr. 
Washington March 10th 1843 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
7th inst. and to thank you for your suggestions in reference to the 
Survey now required in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains. Be as- 
sured that they will receive the greatest attention. A sketch embrac- 


ing your views has been enclosed to Mr. Fremont in order to obtain 
from him the customary estimate. Very Respectfully Your Obt. 


J. J. Abert 

CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:152). Benton's letter is not found, but the "sketch" is 
an enclosure with Doc. No. 56. 

56. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topographical Engs. 
Washington March 10th 1843 

You will please to give immediate attention to your accounts, as it 
is necessary, both by the laws & regulations that these should be ad- 
justed. Before the Bureau can decide upon any orders for your duties 
during the ensuing season, it is necessary that you should submit an 
estimate in detail of the probable expence, embracing the whole or a 
part of the sketch of duties a copy of which is enclosed. Very Re- 
spectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

J. J. Abert 
C. C. T. E. 

To proceed to the main forks of the Kansas river, determine their 
position and thence survey the main stream to its head. From the 
head of the Kansas to fall directly on to the Arkansas and survey it 
to its head, crossing the mountains by that prong which forms the 
boundary between the United States and Mexico. Continuing along 
the western base of the mountains and crossing the heads of all the 
streams which take their rise in that portion of the mountains, join 
on to your positions of 1842 on the Colorado of the Gulf of Cali- 
fornia. Thence continuing north-westwardly across the waters of the 
Columbia, turn westwardly into the Flat-head Country, and join on 
to Lieut. Wilkes' Survey. From that point to return by the Oregon 
road, and on again reaching the mountains, diverge a litde and make 
a circuit of the Wind river chain, which is about eighty miles long. 


This circuit would embrace within its Umits the heads of the Colo- 
rado, the Columbia, some of the heads of the Missouri proper, the 
Yellowstone and the Platte. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:151). Senator Benton's influence upon Colonel Abert, 
and his role as the man behind the scenes in the rise of JCF's career, is evi- 
dent here. Benton writes JCF's orders, obviously after consultation with the 
young lieutenant, and Abert — in a sense — merely ratifies them. But Abert is 
not a cipher, as Benton and the Fremonts later portrayed him; his views 
happened to correspond to Benton's in the matter of western expansion. 
"Abert could not, as did Senator Benton, intrigue on behalf of a special policy 
of imperial aggrandizement, nor could he initiate a legislative policy for the 
West" (goetzmann, 66). 

These are the orders for JCF's expedition of 1843-44 which will take him 
into California. Yet nothing in the orders indicates that he has this discretion; 
he is, in fact, to return down the eastern side of the Wind River Mountains 
in Wyoming — having explored the western slopes in 1842, 

Charles Wilkes (1798-1877), naval officer and explorer, had just completed 
a long voyage which had begun in Aug. 1838 and had taken him to the 
Antarctic, certain islands of the Pacific, and the northwest coast of North 
America. Benton's interest in Oregon makes him eager to extend Wilkes' 
coastal observations into the interior. 

57. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City March 11th 1843 
My dear Sir, 

Your favor of the 27th with the enclosure came safely to hand. I 
think that it would be unjust to you were I to write a preface to the 
catalogue of plants and would be assuming for myself a knowledge 
that I do not possess. I claim no other credit than what may be due 
to having collected them under circumstances of considerable hard- 
ship and privation. From the mouth of the Kansas river to the Red 
buttes, I had with me a number of carts which afforded means to 
transport the plants conveniently, but from that place our examina- 
tion of the country was made on horseback. To accomplish the ex- 
ploration on which I had been sent required very rapid movements 
and it was impossible for me to give to the plants the time necessary to 
arrange them properly. We were in a savage and inhospitable coun- 
try, sometimes annoyed by the Indians and frequently in great dis- 
tress from want of provisions, and when you join to these things the 


various duties which were constantly claiming my attention, you 
will readily make an allowance for the bad condition of the collec- 
tion I sent you. It was made under very unfavorable circumstances, 
and in the intervals of very pressing duties. 

Casting your eye on the small sketch I sent you, you will see that 
our line of road is generally along the bottoms of the Kansas tribu- 
taries and sometimes over the upper prairies. The soil of the river 
bottoms is always rich, and generally well timbered, though the 
whole region is what is called a prairie country. The upper prairies 
are an immense deposit of sand and gravel, covered with a good and 
very generally a rich soil. Along the road on reaching the little 
stream called Sandy creek, the soil became more sandy. The geologi- 
cal formation of this position is lime — and sand-stone. The Amorpha 
was the characteristic plant, in many places being as abundant as the 
grass. From its mouth to the junction of its main forks the valley of 
the Platte generally about four miles broad is rich and well timbered, 
covered with luxuriant grasses. The large purple Aster ? was here the 
characteristic, flourishing in great magnificence. From the junction 
to Laramie's fork the country may be called a sandy one; the valley 
of the stream is without timber, but still the grasses are fine and 
plants abundant. On our return in September the whole valley 
looked like a garden. It was yellow with fields of sunflower which 
was the characteristic. 

Between these two main forks of the Platte, and from the junction 
to Laramie's fork the formation consists of a calcareous marl, a soft 
earthy limestone, and a granitic sandstone. In the region traversed 
from Laramie's fork to the mouth of the Sweet water river the soil 
is generally sandy, the formation consisting of a variety of sandstones 
— yellow and gray sandstones a red argillaceous sandstone with com- 
pact gypsum or alabaster and fine conglomerates. The Sweet Water 
valley is a sandy plain about 120 miles long, and generally about 5 
miles broad, bounded by ranges of granitic mountains between 
which the valley formation consists near the Devil's gate of a grayish 
micaceous sandstone and fine grained conglomerate with a fine 
grained white sandstone. Proceeding twenty or thirty miles up the 
valley we find a white sandstone alternating with white clay and 
white clayey sandstone. At our encampment of August 5th-6th we 
found a fine white clayey sandstone — a coarse sandstone or pud- 
dingstone and white calcareous sandstone. A few miles to the west 


of that position we reached a point where the sandstone reposed im- 
mediately upon the granite, which thenceforward along our line of 
route alternated with a compact clay slate. 

We crossed the dividing ridge on the 8th of August & found the 
soil of the plains at the foot of the mountains on the western side to 
be sandy, being the decomposition of the neighbouring granite 
mountains. From Laramie's fork to this point Artemesia was the 
characteristic plant, occupying the place of the grasses, and filling 
the air with its odour of camphor and spirits of turpentine. On the 
morning of the 10th we entered the defile of the Wind river moun- 

I hope that what I have hastily said above will enable you to write 
a short preface to the catalogue and I would be exceedingly indebted 
to you if you could send it with the 2d part of the catalogue in order 
that I may introduce it into the report. The work is now in the 
hands of the printer but I will delay its publication some days until 
I hear from you. Should you find it proper to refer in your preface 
to heights above the sea I will fill up any blanks you may leave. In 
a few days I will reply to some other points in your letter and in the 
mean time beg you to let me hear from you as soon as will suit your 
convenience, as I am exceedingly pressed & should be very sorry to 
publish the catalogue incomplete. Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont, 
I had just written the above when I received your note with the 
2d part of the catalogue. I am sure I need not tell you how much 
gratified I am that it has arrived in time for publication. I will put it 
to-day in the hands of the printer and the proofs shall be forwarded 
to you at Princeton as soon as they are struck. This letter is already 
very long & I will not add to it by expressing my thanks of which 
you are I know assured. Believe me yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont. 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG). While many letters from JCF to Torrey have 
survived, we have only a printed excerpt of a letter from Torrey to JCF 
(July 1848). Torrey 's 27 Feb. suggestion that Fremont write the preface to the 
catalogue of plants was a courteous one, but as the document indicates, JCF 
refused. Torrey did write the preface, presented with his catalogue as an 
addendum to the report of the expedition (our Doc. No. 61). 



58. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topographical Engineers 
Washington March 14th 1843 

I have to inform you that a requisition has been this day made in 
your favor for twelve hundred Dollars. 

You will please pay Mr. Nicollet the amount that may be due him 
for services to the 10th inst. inclusive, on which day his employment 

You will repair to Baltimore in order to adjust Mr. Nicollet's ac- 
count and to receive from him the public instruments which he has 
to return for which you will please to give the customary receipts, 
after which you will return to this place and report. Very Respect- 
fully Your Obt. Servt. 

J. J. Abert 
Col. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77,LS, 6:161). 

59. Thomas H. Benton to Fremont 

Washington City, March 20. 1843. 
Dear Sir, 

In the very important expedition which you are fitting out to the 
region beyond the Rocky Mountains, and to complete the gap in 
the Surveys between the South Pass and the head of tidewater in the 
Columbia, the officer in command has to appear to the Indians as 
the representative of the government, and not as the officer of a bu- 
reau. To them he represents the government, and as such he must 
make presents, or bring both himself and his government into con- 
tempt. This is an expense which belongs to the Indian department 
more than to the Topographical bureau, and I repeat to you, as my 
opinion, that you should apply to the Secretary at War for a part of 
the contingencies, or a part of the appropriations for Indian presents, 
for this object. There is no danger of getting too much, and one or 


two thousand dollars would be quite small for the number of In- 
dians who will be encountered. On any account, both as it concerns 
the success of the expedition, the respectability of the government, 
and the future friendship of the Indians, it is indispensable that the 
officer who carries the flag of the U. States into these remote regions, 
should carry presents. All savages expect them: they even demand 
them; and they feel contempt & resentment if disappointed. Respect- 
fully, Sir Yr. Obt. Servant, 

Thomas H. Benton 

ALS, RC (CSmH). 

60. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City March 21st 1843 

My dear Sir, 

Yours of the 14th with the enclosure came safely to hand yester- 
day — I beg you to accept my thanks for the preface to your Cata- 
logue, which I find exceedingly interesting, & am happy to say is in 
time for the printer. Herewith I send you a corrected sheet, which 
has still some errors, but I think you will find it more free from 
them, than proof sheets generally are. The printer desires me to say, 
that having no Greek characters, he has supplied their place for the 
moment with the usual letters, but has sent to Baltimore for them, 
and you will find them inserted in the final sheets, together with 
some other omissions. It will give me pleasure to furnish you with 
the number of Catalogues you mention. 

There was an error in my letter, relative to the fact of the clay 
slate alternating with granite; it should have been mica slate, which 
is one of the predominant rocks in that quarter. In Equisetum ar- 
vense of the Catalogue, is "arvense" right? Among the plants col- 
lected on the Sandy river, (branch of the Colorado) on our return, 
was a portion of an artemisia (?) can you tell me if this is an arte- 
misia, & if so, what one? I am anxious to know, as this is the plant 
with the odour of camphor & spirits of turpentine, which I men- 
tioned in my letter as being highly characteristic. There is one plant 
among the collection of which I am very desirous to know the 


name; I met with in fields in full bloom filling the air with fra- 
grance, & almost entirely covering the bottom land of the South 
Fork of the Platte, within some twenty miles of the Rocky Mts. & at 
an elevation of between 5, and 6000 feet. I did not see it again until I 
reached the valley of the Sweetwater near the Devils Gate, which is 
at about the same elevation. I cannot describe it to you from mem- 
ory, although I should recognize it immediately. It is about the size 
of the amorpha & the predominant colour of the flowers, is the pur- 
ple hue of the amorpha. One perfectly white, which is however seen 
but rarely, amid the fields of purple flowers, and one of a light blue, 
almost as frequent as the purple colour. Is it "Lupinus leucophyllus" 
or is it perhaps an amorpha ? 

I have purposely delayed replying to an occasional enquiry in 
some of your letters as to whether or not I should be able to take 
with me a botanist, in order that I might be in possession of infor- 
mation, which would enable me to give you a definite answer. I find 
for various strong reasons, that I shall not be able to do so, but still I 
contemplate doing something for your favourite science. Can we not 
do something together ? Is it not customary sometimes for collectors, 
unskilled as myself to publish their plants in partnership with, & un- 
der the shadow of, the standard names in the science. I do not know 
if I am asking too much, but if I am not, I should be glad if you 
would write to me on the subject, and I think something good 
may be done.^ The following is a brief outline of my expedition for 
the present year. I shall leave this city about the 5th of April & be- 
fore the 1st of May shall be beyond the western frontier of Missouri. 
I propose crossing the mountains to the South of the Great Pass, — 
range along their western bases, — visit the mountainous region of 
the Flathead country, probably go as far down as Fort Vancouver, 
and return by the heads of the Missouri. This you will see, aflfords a 
fine range for botanical researches, and should my veiws meet your 
approbation, a few words of instruction from you would be very 
beneficial to me. By the time you return the proof sheets of the 
Catalogue the whole report will be ready for the Binder. 

I should be glad to hear from you on the subject of this letter, & in 
the meanwhile I am Very truly yours, 

J. Charles Fremont 


1. JCF's reluctance to take professional scientists on his expeditions, and 


his desire to collaborate with men such as Torrey in describing and naming 
his collections, eventually became a topic of comment. Asa Gray wrote to 
Torrey on 8 March 1845 that he believed JCF wanted all the scientific glory. 
"He ought to be above it, and to aim higher; but indeed, it is hardly to be 
expected" (NNNBG). 


61. Report of the First Expedition, 1843 

Editorial note: This account was first published in 1843 as Senate 
Doc. 243, 27th Cong., 3rd sess., under the title: A Report of an Ex- 
ploration of the Country Lying between the Missouri River and the 
Roc\y Mountains on the Line of the Kansas and Great Platte Rivers. 
It was speedily sent to the Senate after JCF had completed the man- 
uscript, for it had been long delayed. JCF presented it to Colonel 
Abert on 1 March 1843, and on the following day it went directly 
to Secretary of War John Canfield Spencer. In a covering letter, 
Abert explained that the delay "was not owing to any want of in- 
dustry on the part of Lieut. Fremont, but to the great amount of 
matter which had to be introduced in the report and the many cal- 
culations which had to be made, of the astronomical & barometrical 
observations, the necessary labor on these accounts has delayed the 
completion of the report until today" (DNA-77, LS, 6:141). 

On 2 March the Senate ordered the report to be printed, and the 
next day a resolution provided that "nine hundred additional copies 
be furnished for the use of the Senate, and one hundred copies for 
the use of the Topographical Bureau." It was later to be combined 
with the report of the 1843-44 expedition and widely distributed by 
trade publishers. 

"I write more easily by dictation," JCF said many years later, and 
". . . therefore the labor of amanuensis, commencing at this early 
time, has remained with Mrs. Fremont" (memoirs, 163). We have 
already noted that Jessie did indeed produce a great number of the 
documents attributed to her husband. There is, however, a surviving 
manuscript draft of this report in the National Archives (DNA-77) 
which is much less a joint effort than JCF's comment would indi- 
cate. The first nineteen sheets are in Jessie's hand, and the remainder 
in JCF's with some corrections and refinements in Jessie's. Where 


the manuscript draft differs materially from the printed version, we 
indicate the difference in a note. 

In a brief explanation to the reader at the beginning of the report, 
JCF explains: "For the Mineralogical Character of the Rocks men- 
tioned in the course of the following report, I am indebted to Mr. 
James D. Dana, of the late Exploring Expedition to the South Seas. 
The Collection of Plants made during my exploration was placed in 
the hands of Dr. John Torrey, who prepared the catalogue which 
is annexed to the narrative." James Dwight Dana (1813-95) had 
recently returned from serving with Charles Wilkes. He was a pro- 
fessor at Yale, author of standard works in geology, and editor of 
the American Journal of Science. 

Despite our usual adherence to the policy of presenting documents 
in chronological order, we have placed this report slightly out of 
order so that it may appear at the end of this division of the volume. 


Washington, March 1, 1843 
To CoL. J. J. Abert, 

Chief of the Corps of Topographical Engineers: 

Sir: Agreeably to your orders to explore and report upon the 
country between the frontiers of Missouri and the South Pass in the 
Rocky mountains, and on the line of the Kansas and Great Platte 
rivers, I sat out from Washington city on the 2d day of May, 1842, 
arrived at St. Louis, by way of New York, the 22d of May, where 
the necessary preparations were completed, and the expedition com- 
menced. I proceeded in a steamboat to Chouteau's Landing, about 
400 miles by water from St. Louis, and near the mouth of the Kan- 
sas river, whence we proceeded twelve miles to Mr. Cyprian Chou- 
teau's trading house, where we completed our final arrangements 
for the expedition. 

Bad weather, which interfered with astronomical observations, 
delayed us several days in the early part of June at this post, which is 
on the right bank of the Kansas river, about ten miles above the 
mouth, and six beyond the western boundary of Missouri. The sky 
cleared off at length, and we were enabled to determine our position, 
in longitude 94° 39^ 16", and latitude 39° 5' 57". The elevation above 
the sea is about 700 feet. Our camp, in the meantime, presented an 


animated and busding scene. All were busily occupied in completing 
the necessary arrangements for our campaign in the wilderness, and 
profiting by this short delay on the verge of civilization, to provide 
ourselves with all the little essentials to comfort in the nomadic life 
we were to lead for the ensuing summer months. Gradually, how- 
ever, everything, the materiel of the camp, men, horses, and even 
mules, settled into its place, and by the 10th we were ready to depart; 
but, before we mount our horses, I will give a short description of 
the party with which I performed this service. 

I had collected in the neighborhood of St. Louis twenty-one men, 
principally Creole and Canadian voyageurs, who had become famil- 
iar with prairie life in the service of the fur companies in the Indian 
country. Mr. Charles Preuss, a native of Germany, was my assistant 
in the topographical part of the survey. L. Maxwell, of Kaskaskia, 
had been engaged as hunter, and Christopher Carson, more famil- 
iarly known, for his exploits in the mountains, as Kit Carson, was 
our guide. The persons engaged in St. Louis, were: 

Clement Lambert, J. B. L'Esperance, J. B. Lefevre, Benjamin 
Potra, Louis Gouin, J. B. Dumes, Basil Lajeunesse, Francois Tessier, 
Benjamin Cadotte, Joseph Clement, Daniel Simonds, Leonard Benoit, 
Michel Morly, Baptiste Bernier, Honore Ayot, Francois Latulippe, 
Frangois Badeau, Louis Menard, Joseph Ruelle, Moise Chardonnais, 
Auguste Janisse, Raphael Proue. 

In addition to these, Henry Brant, son of Col. J. B. Brant, of St. 
Louis, a young man of nineteen years of age, and Randolph, a lively 
boy of twelve, son of the Hon. Thomas H. Benton, accompanied me, 
for the development of mind and body which such an expedition 
would give.^ We were all well armed and mounted, with the excep- 
tion of eight men, who conducted as many carts, in which were 
packed our stores, with the baggage and instruments, and which 
were each drawn by two mules. A few loose horses, and four oxen, 
which had been added to our stock of provisions, completed the 

1. All the men on the expedition have been mentioned earlier, and some 
biographical information — usually scant — has been presented. In the present 
listing, JCF does not mention Registe Larente, who went only as far as Fort 
John near the mouth of the Laramie; Osea Harmiyo [Jose Armijo], hired at 
Fort St. Vrain on 9 July; or a man named Descoteaux who is not mentioned 
here or in the vouchers but is named later in the report. Latulippe did not 
start with the expedition, but was encountered with some comrades on 29 
June, laden with robes, and was hired on the spot. He had been with Nicollet 
and JCF on the 1839 expedition. 


train. We sat out on the morning of the 10th, which happened to be 
Friday, a circumstance which our men did not fail to remember and 
recall during the hardships and vexations of the ensuing journey. 
Mr. Cyprian Chouteau, to whose kindness during our stay at his 
house we were much indebted, accompanied us several miles on our 
way, until we met an Indian, whom he had engaged to conduct us 
on the first thirty or forty miles, where he was to consign us to the 
ocean of prairie, which, we were told, stretched without interrup- 
tion almost to the base of the Rocky Mountains. 

From the belt of wood which borders the Kanzas, in which we 
had passed several good-looking Indian farms, we suddenly emerged 
on the prairies, which received us at the outset with some of their 
striking characteristics; for here and there rode an Indian, and but 
a few miles distant, heavy clouds of smoke were rolling before the 
fire. In about ten miles we reached the Santa Fe road, along which 
we continued for a short time, and encamped early on a small 
stream, having travelled about eleven miles.' During our journey. 

2. JCF is reconnoitering, not trailblazing, and there is little need to docu- 
ment every mile of his progress along an already established trail. When 
he reaches the South Pass area and strikes out to the north on his own, we 
shall feel justified in following him more closely. A word is required about 
our approach to the identification of topographical features, campsites, and 
other matters of geographical interest. With an expedition as early as, say, 
the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-6, where every bend of the river 
brought the men into view of hitherto unknown and unnamed features of the 
land, the places where they camped and the names they devised are of great 
historical importance. But JCF, half a century later, is no pathfinder — never 
personally claimed to be — and his eyes seldom fall upon a mountain range or 
a lake not known by an earlier traveler. This is particularly true when he is 
on the Oregon Trail. 

While we do not feel compelled to annotate every river, lake, or other 
feature described by JCF, we do it frequently and perhaps not always con- 
sistently. We do it to keep track of the expedition on the map, to identify 
landmarks which have special interest, and to provide modern nomenclature 
for certain place-names which have changed through the years. We are more 
attentive to this responsibility when JCF is not following well-worn trails. For 
detailed information on the early trails, see George R. Stewart, The California 
Trail (New York, 1962), Jay Monaghan, The Overland Trail (Indianapolis, 
1947), Irene D. Paden, The Wa\e of the Prairie Schooner (New York, 1943), 
and the "Introductions" by Dale L. Morgan to The Overland Diary of 
James A. Pritchard from Kentucky to Calfornia in 1849 (Denver, Colo., 
1959) and by David Potter to Trail to California (New Haven, Conn., 1945). 
A recent and authoritative work, but following the trail along the Platte and 
North Platte only as far as Fort Laramie, is Merrill J. .Mattes, The Great 
Platte River Road (Lincoln, Nebr., 1969). 


it was the customary practice to encamp an hour or two before sun- 
set, when the carts were disposed so as to form a sort of barricade 
around a circle some eighty yards in diameter. The tents were 
pitched, and the horses hobbled and turned loose to graze; and but 
a few minutes elapsed before the cooks of the messes, of which there 
were four, were busily engaged in preparing the evening meal. At 
night fall, the horses, mules, and oxen, were driven in, and picketted 
— that is, secured by a halter, of which one end was tied to a small 
steel-shod picket, and driven into the ground; the halter being 
twenty or thirty feet long, which enabled them to obtain a little 
food during the night. When we had reached a part of the country 
where such a precaution became necessary, the carts being regularly 
arranged for defending the camp, guard was mounted at eight 
o'clock, consisting of three men, who were relieved every two hours; 
the morning watch being horse guard for the day. At daybreak, the 
camp was roused, the animals turned loose to graze, and breakfast 
generally over between six and seven o'clock, when we resumed our 
march, making regularly a halt at noon for one or two hours. Such 
was usually the order of the day, except when accident of country 
forced a variation, which, however, happened but rarely. We travelled 
the next day along the Santa Fe road, which we left in the after- 
noon, and encamped late in the evening on a small creek, called by 
the Indians Mishmagwi. Just as we arrived at camp, one of the 
horses set off at full speed on his return, and was followed by others. 
Several men were sent in pursuit, and returned with the fugitives 
about midnight, with the exception of one man, who did not make 
his appearance until morning. He had lost his way in the darkness 
of the night, and slept on the prairie. Shortly after midnight it be- 
gan to rain heavily, and as our tents were of light and thin cloth, 
they offered but little obstruction to rain; we were all well soaked, 
and glad when morning came. We had a rainy march on the 12th, 
but the weather grew fine as the day advanced. We encamped in a 
remarkably beautiful situation on the Kanzas BluiTs, which com- 
manded a fine view of the river valley, here from three to four miles 
wide. The central portion was occupied by a broad belt of heavy 
timber, and nearer the hills the prairies were of the richest verdure. 
One of the oxen was killed here for food. 
We reached the ford of the Kanzas^ late in the afternoon of the 

3. One of the well-known fording places on the Kansas River, in the 
vicinity of present Topeka. JCF's route thus far has been the traditional one, 


14th, where the river was two hundred and thirty yards wide, and 
commenced immediately preparations for crossing. I had expected 
to find the river fordable, but it had been swollen by the late rains, 
and was sweeping by with an angry current, yellow and turbid as 
the Missouri. Up to this point, the road we had travelled was a re- 
markably fine one, well beaten, and level, the usual road of a prairie 
country. By our route the ford was one hundred miles from the 
mouth of the Kanzas river. Several mounted men led the way into 
the stream to swim across. The animals were driven in after them, 
and in a few minutes all had reached the opposite bank in safety, 
with the exception of the oxen, which swam some distance down 
the river, and, returning to the right bank were not got over until 
the next morning. In the meantime, the carts had been unloaded 
and dismantled, and an India-rubber boat, which I had brought 
with me for the survey of the Platte river, placed in the water. The 
boat was twenty feet long, and five broad, and on it was placed the 
body and wheels of a cart, with the load belonging to it, and three 
men with paddles. 

The velocity of the current, and the inconvenient freight, ren- 
dering it difficult to be managed, Basil Lajeunesse, one of our best 
swimmers, took in his teeth a line attached to the boat, and swam 
ahead in order to reach a footing as soon as possible, and assist in 
drawing her over. In this manner, six passages had been successfully 
made, and as many carts with their contents, and a greater portion 
of the party deposited on the left bank ; but night was drawing near, 
and in our anxiety to have all over before darkness closed in, I put 
upon the boat the remaining two carts, with their accompanying 
load. The man at the helm was timid in water, and in his alarm 

starting out along the Santa Fe Trail to avoid some bad crossings, then veer- 
ing northward in the direction of the Platte. The creek he calls "Mishmagwi" 
may be Bull Creek or Captain Creek. After his crossing of the Kansas he will 
be traveling north and west, across northern tributaries of the Little Blue, 
until he reaches (Jrand Island at the Platte. 

The hunter who visited camp on the evening of 17 June brought news of 
one of the very earliest wagon trains to journey to Oregon. Dr. Elijah White 
(d. 1879), of New York, had gone to the Willamette Valley by sea in 1837, 
on behalf of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Returning to Washington, 
D.C., he was appointed Indian agent with the understanding that he was to 
return to Oregon. At the time of his departure he was anticipating the passage 
of a bill authorizing the president to appoint agents for the territory west of 
Iowa. (The bill did not pass and White's appointment failed, but this was not 
known in Oregon until the fall of 1843.) 


capsized the boat. Carts, barrels, boxes, and bales, were in a moment 
floating down the current, but all the men who were on the shore 
jumped into the water, without stopping to think if they could 
swim, and almost every thing, even heavy articles, such as guns and 
lead, were recovered. 

Two of the men who could not swim came nigh being drowned, 
and all the sugar belonging to one of the messes wasted its sweets on 
the muddy waters; but our heaviest loss was a bag of cofTee, which 
contained nearly all our provision. It was a loss which none but a 
traveller in a strange and inhospitable country can appreciate; and 
often afterward, when excessive toil and long marching had over- 
come us with fatigue and weariness, we remembered and mourned 
over our loss in the Kanzas. Carson and Maxwell had been much 
in the water yesterday, and both in consequence were taken ill. The 
former continuing so, I remained in camp. A number of Kanzas 
Indians visited us to-day. Going up to one of the groups who were 
scattered among the trees, I found one sitting on the ground among 
some of the men, gravely and fluently speaking French, with as 
much facility and as little embarrassment as any of my own party, 
who were nearly all of French origin. 

On all sides was heard the strange language of his own people, 
wild, and harmonizing well with their appearance. I listened to him 
for some time with feelings of strange curiosity and interest. He was 
now apparently thirty-five years of age; and, on inquiry, I learned 
that he had been at St. Louis when a boy, and there had learned the 
French language. From one of the Indian women I obtained a fine 
cow and calf in exchange for a yoke of oxen. Several of them 
brought us vegetables, pumpkins, onions, beans, and lettuce. One of 
them brought butter, and from a half-breed near the river I had the 
good fortune to obtain some twenty or thirty pounds of coffee. The 
dense timber in which we had encamped interfered with astronomi- 
cal observations, and our wet and damaged stores required exposure 
to the sun. Accordingly, the tents were struck early the next morn- 
ing, and, leaving camp at six o'clock, we moved about seven miles 
up the river to a handsome, open prairie some twenty feet above the 
water, where the fine grass afforded a luxurious repast to our horses. 

During the day we occupied ourselves in making astronomical 
observations, in order to lay down the country to this place, it being 
our custom to keep up our map regularly in the field, which we 
found attended with many advantages. The men were kept busy in 


drying the provisions, painting the cart covers, and otherwise com- 
pleting our equipage, until the afternoon, v^hen powder was distrib- 
uted to them, and they spent some hours in firing at a mark. We 
were now fairly in the Indian country, and it began to be time to 
prepare for the chances of the wilderness. 

Friday, ]une 17. — The weather yesterday had not permitted us to 
make the observations I was desirous to obtain here, and I therefore 
did not move to-day. The people continued their target firing. In the 
steep bank of the river here were nests of innumerable swallows, 
into one of which a large prairie snake had got about half his body, 
and was occupied in eating the young birds. The old ones were fly- 
ing about in great distress, darting at him, and vainly endeavoring 
to drive him ofT. A shot wounded him, and, being killed, he was cut 
open, and eighteen young swallows were found in his body. A sud- 
den storm that burst upon us in the afternoon cleared away in a 
brilliant sunset, followed by a clear night, which enabled us to deter- 
mine our position in longitude 96° 10' 06", and in latitude 39° 06' 40". 

A party of emigrants to the Columbia river, under the charge of 
Dr. White, an agent of the Government in Oregon Territory, were 
about three weeks in advance of us. They consisted of men, women, 
and children. There were sixty-four men and sixteen or seventeen 
families. They had a considerable number of cattle, and were trans- 
porting their household furniture in large heavy wagons. I under- 
stood that there had been much sickness among them, and that they 
had lost several children. One of the party who had lost his child, 
and whose wife was very ill, had left them about one hundred miles 
hence on the prairies; and as a hunter who had accompanied them 
visited our camp this evening, we availed ourselves of his return to 
the States to write to our friends. 

The morning of the 18th was very unpleasant. A fine rain was fall- 
ing, with cold wind from the north, and mists made the river hills 
look dark and gloomy. We left our camp at seven, journeying along 
the foot of the hills which border the Kansas valley, generally about 
three miles wide, and extremely rich. We halted for dinner, after a 
march of about thirteen miles, on the banks of one of the many little 
tributaries to the Kansas, which look like trenches in the prairie, 
and are usually well timbered. After crossing this stream, I rode off 
some miles to the left, attracted by the appearance of a cluster of huts 
near the mouth of the [Little] Vermillion. It was a large but de- 
serted Kansas village, scattered in an open wood along the margin 


of the stream, on a spot chosen with the customary Indian fondness 
for beauty and scenery. The Pawnees had attacked it in the early 
spring. Some of the houses were burnt, and others blackened with 
smoke, and weeds were already getting possession of the cleared 
places. Riding up the [Little] Vermillion river, I reached the ford 
in time to meet the carts, and crossing, encamped on its western 
side. The weather continued cool, the thermometer being this evening 
as low as 49°, but the night was sufficiently clear for astronomical 
observations, which placed us in longitude 96° 36' 40", and latitude 
39° 15' 19".^ At sunset, the barometer was at 28,845, thermometer 64°. 

We breakfasted the next morning at half past five, and left our 
encampment early. The morning was cool, the thermometer being at 
45°. Quitting the river bottom, the road ran along the uplands, over 
a rolling country, generally in view of the Kansas, from eight to 
twelve miles distant. Many large boulders of a very compact sand- 
stone of various shades of red, some of them four or five tons in 
weight, were scattered along the hills; and many beautiful plants 
in flower, among which the amorpha canescens was a characteristic, 
enlivened the green of the prairie. At the heads of the ravines I 
remarked occasionally thickets of salix longifolia, the most com- 
mon willow of the country. We travelled nineteen miles, and pitched 
our tents at evening on the head waters of a small creek, now 
nearly dry, but having in its bed several fine springs. The barom- 
eter indicated a considerable rise in the country — here about fourteen 
hundred feet above the sea — and the increased elevation appeared 
already to have some slight influence upon the vegetation. The 
night was cold, with a heavy dew, the thermometer at ten stand- 
ing at 46°, barometer 28,483. Our position was in longitude 96° 
48' 05", and latitude 39° 30' 40". 

The morning of the 20th was fine, with a southerly breeze and a 

4. In the manuscript draft, the longitude is the same as that given here, 
but in the 1845 edition it is changed to 96° 04' 07". Although JCF's latitudes 
remain fairly constant in the various versions, the longitudes — more difficult 
to fix — were frequently changed by later findings or calculations. In a note 
on his observations written after his 1843-44 expedition, and placed in the 
1845 edition, he explains that his earlier longitudes were thrown too far to the 
westward by the use of an occultation "which experience has recently shown 
to be deserving of little comparative confidence." He then adjusted all these 
1842 longitudes by referring them chronometrically to those established in 
1843-44. His corrected longitudes usually lie to the west of modern readings. 
The readings used here for the 1842 expedition will be those first published 
by JCFindie 1843 report. 


bright sky, and at 7 o'clock we were on the march. The country 
to-day was rather more broken, rising still, and covered every where 
with fragments of siliceous limestone, particularly on the summits, 
where they were small, and thickly strewed as pebbles on the shore 
of the sea. In these exposed situations grew but few plants; though, 
whenever the soil was good and protected from the winds, in the 
creek bottoms and ravines, and on the slopes, they flourished abun- 
dantly; among them, the amorpha' still retaining its characteristic 
place. We crossed, at 10, the Big Vermillion [Black Vermillion], 
which has a rich bottom of about one mile in breadth, one third of 
which is occupied by timber. Making our usual halt at noon, after 
a day's march of twenty-four miles, we reached the Big Blue, and 
encamped on the uplands of the western side, near a small creek, 
where was a fine large spring of very cold water. This is a clear and 
handsome stream, about one hundred and twenty feet wide, run- 
ning, with a rapid current, through a well-timbered valley. To-day 
antelope were seen running over the hills, and at evening Carson 
brought us a fine deer. Long, of the camp 97° 06' 58", lat. 39° 45' 08". 
Thermometer at sunset 75°. A pleasant southerly breeze and fine 
morning had given place to a gale, with indications of bad weather, 
when, after a march of ten miles, we halted to noon on a small 
creek, where the water stood in deep pools. In the bank of the 
creek, limestone made its appearance in a stratum about one foot 
thick. In the afternoon, the people seemed to suffer for want of 
water. The road led along a high dry ridge; dark lines of timber 
indicated the heads of streams in the plains below; but there was no 
water near, and the day was very oppressive, with a hot wind, and 
the thermometer at 90°. Along our route, the amorpha has been in 
very abundant but variable bloom: in some places, bending be- 
neath the weight of purple clusters; in others, without a flower. 
It seems to love best the sunny slopes, with a dark soil and southern 
exposure. Every where the rose is met with, and reminds us of 
cultivated gardens and civilization. It is scattered over the prairies 
in small bouquets, and, when glittering in the dews and waving in 
the pleasant breeze of the early morning, is the most beautiful of the 
prairie flowers. The artemisia, absinthe, or prairie sage, as it is 
variously called, is increasing in size, and glitters like silver, as the 

5. The manuscript draft reads, "among them the Coreopsis palmata began to 
cluster in larger yellow patches but the Amorpha still retained its character- 
istic place." 


southern breeze turns up its leaves to the sun. All these plants have 
their insect inhabitants, variously colored; taking generally the hue 
of the flower on which they live. The artemisia has its small fly ac- 
companying it through every change of elevation and latitude; and 
wherever I have seen the asclepias tuherosa, I have always remarked, 
too, on the flower, a large butterfly, so nearly resembling it in color, 
as to be distinguishable at a little distance only by the motion of its 
wings.*' Travelling on the fresh traces of the Oregon emigrants re- 
lieves a little the loneliness of the road ; and to-night, after a march 
of twenty-two miles, we halted on a small creek, which had been 
one of their encampments. As we advance westward, the soil appears 
to be getting more sandy, and the surface rock, an erratic deposite 
of sand and gravel, rests here on a bed of coarse yellow and gray 
and very friable sandstone. Evening closed over with rain and its 
usual attendant, hordes of mosquitoes, with which we were annoyed 
for the first time. 

]une 11. — We enjoyed at breakfast this morning a luxury very 
unusual in this country, in a cup of excellent coffee, with cream 
from our cow. Being milked at night, cream was thus had in the 
morning. Our mid-day halt was at Wyeth's creek, in the bed of 
which, were numerous boulders of dark ferruginous sandstone, 
mingled with others of the red sandstone already mentioned. Here 
a pack of cards, lying loose on the grass, marked an encampment of 
our Oregon emigrants; and it was at the close of the day when we 
made our bivouac in the midst of some well-timbered ravines near 
the Little Blue, twenty-four miles from our camp of the preceding 
night. Crossing the next morning a number of handsome creeks, 
with clear water and sandy beds, we reached, at 10, a very beautiful 
wooded stream, about thirty-five feet wide, called Sandy creek, and, 
sometimes, as the Otoes frequently winter there, the Otoe fork. The 
country has become very sandy, and the plants less varied and abun- 
dant, with the exception of the amorpha, which rivals the grass in 
quantity, though not so forward as it has been found to the eastward. 

6. In the manuscript draft, a blank is left for A. tuherosa, and "butterfly" 
reads "red butterfly." Inserted after the next sentence: "This party consists of 
above 100 persons, with cattle, horses, carts, &c." Throughout the remainder 
of the manuscript version, many of the scientific names of plants are missing, 
JCF having left blanks to be filled in after Torrey had made the necessary 
determinations. All of the plants collected by JCF are catalogued, beginning on 
p. 290, and we make few comments on them in the notes. 


At the Big Trees, where we had intended to noon, no water was 
to be found. The bed of the Httle creek was perfectly dry, and on the 
adjacent sandy bottom, cacti [prickly pear], for the first time, made 
their appearance. We made here a short delay in search of water; 
and, after a hard day's march of twenty-eight miles, encamped, at 
five o'clock, on the Little Blue, where our arrival made a scene of 
the Arabian desert. As fast as they arrived, men and horses rushed 
into the stream, where they bathed and drank together in common 
enjoyment. We were now in the range of the Pawnees, who were 
accustomed to infest this part of the country, stealing horses from 
companies on their way to the mountains, and, when in sufficient 
force openly attacking and plundering them, and subjecting them 
to various kinds of insult. For the first time, therefore, guard was 
mounted to night. Our route the next morning lay up the valley, 
which, bordered by hills with graceful slopes, looked uncommonly 
green and beautiful. The stream was about fifty feet wide and three 
or four deep, fringed by cotton wood and willow, with frequent 
groves of oak tenanted by flocks of turkeys. Game here, too, made its 
appearance in greater plenty. Elk were frequently seen on the hills, 
and now and then an antelope bounded across our path, or a deer 
broke from the groves. The road in the afternoon was over the up- 
per prairies, several miles from the river, and we encamped at sunset 
on one of its small tributaries, where an abundance of prele {equi- 
setum) afforded fine forage to our tired animals. We had travelled 
thirty-one miles. A heavy bank of black clouds in the west came on 
us in a storm between nine and ten, preceded by a violent wind. The 
rain fell in such torrents that it was difficult to breathe facing the 
wind, the thunder rolled incessantly, and the whole sky was trem- 
ulous with lightning; now and then illuminated by a blinding 
flash, succeeded by pitchy darkness. Carson had the watch from ten 
to midnight, and to him had been assigned our young compagnons 
de voyage, Messrs. Brant and R. Benton. This was their first night on 
guard, and such an introduction did not augur very auspiciously of 
the pleasures of the expedition. Many things conspired to render 
their situation uncomfortable; stories of desperate and bloody Indian 
fights were rife in the camp; our position was badly chosen, sur- 
rounded on all sides by timbered hollows, and occupying an area of 
several hundred feet, so that necessarily the guards were far apart; 
and now and then I could hear Randolph, as if relieved by the sound 
of a voice in the darkness, calling out to the sergeant of the guard, to 



direct his attention to some imaginary alarm; but they stood it out, 
and took their turn regularly afterward. 

The next morning we had a specimen of the false alarms to which 
all parties in these wild regions are subject. Proceeding up the valley, 
objects were seen on the opposite hills, which disappeared before a 
glass could be brought to bear upon them. A man^ who was a short 
distance in the rear came spurring up in great haste, shouting In- 
dians! Indians! He had been near enough to see and count them, 
according to his report, and had made out twenty-seven. I im- 
mediately halted, arms were examined and put in order; the usual 
preparations made; and Kit Carson, springing upon one of the hunt- 
ing horses, crossed the river, and galloped off into the opposite prai- 
ries to obtain some certain intelligence of their movements. 

Mounted on a fine horse, without a saddle, and scouring bare- 
headed over the prairies. Kit was one of the finest pictures of a 
horseman I have ever seen. A short time enabled him to discover 
that the Indian war party of twenty-seven consisted of six elk, who 
had been gazing curiously at our caravan as it passed by, and were 
now scampering off at full speed. This was our first alarm, and its 
excitement broke agreeably on the monotony of the day. At our 
noon halt, the men were exercised at a target ; and in the evening we 
pitched our tents at a Pawnee encampment of last July. They had 
apparently killed buffalo here, as many bones were lying about, and 
the frames where the hides had been stretched were yet standing. 
The road of the day had kept the valley, which is sometimes rich 
and well timbered, though the country is generally sandy. Mingled 
with the usual plants, a thistle {carduus leucographus) had for the 
last day or two made its appearance; and along the river bottom, 
tradescantia {virginica) and milk plant {asclepias syriaca*) in con- 
siderable quantities.^ 

* "This plant is very odoriferous, and in Canada charms the traveller, espe- 
cially when passing through woods in the evening. The French there eat the 
tender shoots in the spring, as we do asparagus. The natives make a sugar 
of the flowers, gathering them in the morning when they are covered with 
dew, and collect the cotton from the pods to fill their beds. On account of the 
silkiness of this cotton, Parkinson calls the plant Virginian silk."^ — Loudon's 
Encyclopedia of Plants. The Sioux Indians of the Upper Platte eat the young 
pods of this plant, boiling them with the meat of the buffalo. 

7. PREuss, 13, says this man was Henry Brant. 

8. At this point in the text, the manuscript draft contains the following de- 
leted paragraphs: 


Our march to-day had been twenty-one miles, and the astronomi- 
cal observations gave us a chronometric longitude of 98° 54' 07", and 
latitude 40° 26' 50". We w^ere moving forward at seven in the morn- 
ing, and in about five miles reached a fork of the Blue, where the 
road leaves that river, and crosses over to the Platte. No water was to 
be found on the dividing ridge, and the casks were filled and the 
animals here allowed a short repose. The road led across a high and 
level prairie ridge, where were but few plants, and those principally 
thistle {carduus leucographus), and a kind of dwarf artemisia. Ante- 
lope were seen frequently during the morning, which was very 
stormy. Squalls of rain, with thunder and lightning, were around us 
in every direction; and while we were enveloped in one of them, a 
flash, which seemed to scorch our eyes as it passed, struck in the 
prairie within a few hundred feet, sending up a column of dust. 

Crossing on the way several Pawnee roads to the Arkansas, we 
reached, in about twenty-one miles from our halt on the Blue, what 
is called the coast of the Nebraska, or Platte river. This had seemed 
in the distance a range of high and broken hills, but on a nearer ap- 
proach were found to be elevations of forty to sixty feet, into which 
the wind had worked the sand. They were covered with the usual 
fine grasses of the country, and bordered the eastern side of the 
ridge on a breadth of about two miles. Change of soil and country 
appeared here to have produced some change in the vegetation. 
Cacti were numerous, and all the plants of the region appeared to 
flourish among the warm hills. Among them the amorpha, in full 
bloom, was remarkable for its large and luxuriant purple clusters. 
From the foot of the coast, a distance of two miles across the level 

"Our cook was very dilatory & I had been obliged to give him an assistant. 
He thought rather that men lived to eat than that they ate to live, had no idea 
of the value of time & was never known to hurry except when eating an 
omelette souffle which was a dish he said that couldn't bear to wait. 

"Descouteaux, the man I had given, was an excellent cook & though but 
a prairie artist one on whom the mantle of Ade [?] had fallen most becom- 
ingly. They did not agree very well & this evening a professional dispute 
broke into an open fight, with which I did not interfere as it was conducted 
with their natural weapons, frying-pans & gridirons. Unwilling to fatigue and 
annoy the men by restraining their natural freedom in the ettiquette of small 
observances, I had determined to enforce only those points of discipline which 
really regarded our preservation in a remote country & the success of the Ex- 
pedition & so long as in their disputes they had no recourse to arms I fol- 
lowed the custom of the country & in no wise interfered with their amuse- 


bottom brought us to our encampment on the shore of the river, 
about twenty miles below the head of Grand island, which lay ex- 
tended before us, covered with dense and heavy woods. From the 
mouth of the Kansas, according to our reckoning, we had travelled 
three hundred and twenty-eight miles; and the geological formation 
of the country we had passed over consisted of lime and sandstone, 
covered by the same erratic deposite of sand and gravel which forms 
the surface rock of the prairies between the Missouri and Mississippi 
rivers; except in some occasional limestone boulders, I had met with 
no fossils. The elevation of the Platte valley above the sea is here 
about two thousand feet. The astronomical observations of the night 
placed us in longitude 99° 17 M'\ latitude 40° 41' 06''. 

]une 27. — The animals were somewhat fatigued by their march of 
yesterday, and after a short journey of eighteen miles along the river 
bottom, I encamped near the head of Grand island,^ in longitude, 
by observation, 99° 37' 45", latitude 40° 39' 32". The soil here was 
light but rich, though in some places rather sandy; and, with the ex- 
ception of a scattered fringe along the bank, the timber, consisting 
principally of poplar {populus monilifera), elm, and hackberry {celtts 
crassifolid), is confined almost entirely to the islands. 

]une 28. — We halted to noon at an open reach of the river, which 
occupies rather more than a fourth of the valley, here only about 
four miles broad. The camp had been disposed with the usual pre- 
caution, the horses grazing at a little distance, attended by the guard, 
and we were all sitting quietly at our dinner on the grass, when sud- 
denly we heard the startling cry "du monde!" In an instant, every 
man's weapon was in his hand, the horses were driven in, hobbled 
and picketted, and horsemen were galloping at full speed in the 
direction of the new comers, screaming and yelling with the wildest 
excitement. "Get ready, my lads!" said the leader of the approaching 
party to his men, when our wild-looking horsemen were discovered 
bearing down upon them; "nous allo?is attraper des coups de ba- 
guette." They proved to be a small party of fourteen, under the 

9. At the site of present Grand Island, Nebr. When William Marshall 
Anderson camped there in 1834, he described it as "the longest fresh water 
river island, perhaps in America. ... It commences indeed, God knows 
where, & ends God knows where" (anderson, 204). It still does, as the chan- 
nelings of the river have broken it into many segments. Early travelers esti- 
mated its length at anywhere from 50 to 120 miles. But it was never much 
more than a band, splitting the river into two main channels (mattes, 194). 


charge of a man named John Lee, and with their baggage and pro- 
visions strapped to their backs, were making their way on foot to the 
frontier. A brief account of their fortunes will give some idea of 
navigation in the Nebraska. Sixty days since they had left the 
mouth of Laramie's fork, some three hundred miles above, in barges 
laden with the furs of the American Fur Company. They started 
with the annual flood, and drawing but nine inches water, hoped to 
make a speedy and prosperous voyage to St, Louis; but, after a lapse 
of forty days, found themselves only one hundred and thirty miles 
from their point of departure. They came down rapidly as far as 
Scott's blufTs, where their difficulties began. Sometimes they came 
upon places where the water was spread over a great extent, and 
here they toiled from morning until night, endeavoring to drag their 
boat through the sands, making only two or three miles in as many 
days. Sometimes they would enter an arm of the river, where there 
appeared a fine channel, and after descending prosperously for eight 
or ten miles, would come suddenly upon dry sands, and be com- 
pelled to return, dragging their boat for days against the rapid cur- 
rent; and at others, they came upon places where the water lay in 
holes, and getting out to float ofT their boat, would fall into water up 
to their necks, and the next moment tumble over against a sandbar. 
Discouraged at length, and finding the Platte growing every day 
more shallow, they discharged the principal part of their cargoes one 
hundred and thirty miles l3elow Fort Laramie, which they secured 
as well as possible, and leaving a few men to guard them, attempted 
to continue their voyage, laden with some light furs and their 
personal baggage. After fifteen or twenty days more struggling in 
the sands, during which they made but one hundred and forty miles, 
they sunk their barges, made a cache of their remaining furs and 
property, in trees on the bank, and, packing on his back what each 
man could carry, had commenced, the day before we encountered 
them, their journey on foot to St. Louis. 

We laughed then at their forlorn and vagabond appearance, and 
in our turn a month or two afterwards furnished the same occasion 
for merriment to others.^*' Even their stock of tobacco, that sine qua 

10. Deleted from the manuscript draft at this point: "In their parti- 
coloured & motley dresses one was strongly reminded of Hogarth's picture 
of the Beggars, rendered somewhat dingy by time." Among the forlorn and 
vagabond of John Lee's party was Rufus B. Sage (1817-93), a young Con- 
necticut-born newspaperman. He had gone west to trap and trade and to 


non of a voyageur, without which the night fire is gloomy, was en- 
tirely exhausted. However, we shortened their homeward journey by 
a small supply from our own provision. They gave us the welcome 
intelligence that the Buffalo were abundant some two days' march 
in advance, and made us a present of some choice pieces, which were 
a very acceptable change from our salt pork. In the interchange of 
news, and the renewal of old acquaintanceships, we found where- 
withal to fill a busy hour, then we mounted our horses, and they 
shouldered their packs, and we shook hands and parted. Among 
them, I had found an old companion on the northern prairie, a 
hardened and hardly served veteran of the mountains, who had been 
as much hacked and scarred as an old moustache of Napoleon's "old 
guard." He flourished in the sobriquet of La Tulipe,^^ and his real 
name I never knew. Finding that he was going to the States only 
because his company was bound in that direction, and that he was 
rather more willing to return with me, I took him again into my 
service. We travelled this day but seventeen miles. 

At our evening camp, about sunset, three figures were discovered 
approaching, which our glasses made out to be Indians. They proved 
to be Cheyennes, two men and a boy of thirteen. About a month 
since, they had left their people on the south fork of the river, some 
three hundred miles to the westward, and a party of only four in 
number had been to the Pawnee villages on a horse stealing excur- 
sion, from which they were returning unsuccessful. They were miser- 
ably mounted on wild horses from the Arkansas plains, and had no 
other weapons than bows and long spears; and had they been dis- 
covered by the Pawnees, could not, by any possibility, have escaped. 
They were mortified by their ill success, and said the Pawnees were 
cowards who shut up their horses in their lodges at night. I invited 

gather material for an intended book which he pubhshed in 1846 under the 
title Scenes in the Roc\y Mountains. . . . The book went through many 
printings. The first edition included 3,000 copies paperbound and 500 cloth- 
bound. Some copies of the clothbound volume included a map which was ap- 
parently adapted from Fremont's Report. Sage married in 1847 and setded 
down in the small Connecticut town of his birth, Upper Middletown, where 
he farmed until his death (sage, 1:1-27, 2:41). 

11. Francois Latulippe, previously identified. Perhaps as an added induce- 
ment, JCF bought twelve buffalo hides from him (voucher no. 23, p. 152). 
According to Sage a pack of buffalo robes generally embraced ten skins and 
weighed about eighty pounds (sage, 2:19n). Latulippe was paid off at Fort 
John on the return trip. 


them to supper with me, and Randolph and the young Cheyenne, 
who had been eyeing each other suspiciously and curiously, soon be- 
came intimate friends. After supper we sat down on the grass, and I 
placed a sheet of paper between us, on which they traced rudely, but 
with a certain degree of relative truth, the watercourses of the coun- 
try which lay between us and their villages, and of which I desired 
to have some information. Their companions, they told us, had 
taken a nearer route over the hills, but they had mounted one of the 
summits to spy out the country, whence they had caught a glimpse 
of our party, and, confident of good treatment at the hands of the 
whites, hastened to join company. Latitude of the camp 40° 39' 51". 

We made the next morning sixteen miles. I remarked that the 
ground was covered in many places with an efflorescence of salt, and 
the plants were not numerous. In the bottoms was frequently seen 
tradescantia, and on the dry benches were carduus, cactus, and amor- 
pha. A high wind during the morning had increased to a violent 
gale from the northwest, which made our afternoon ride cold and 
unpleasant. We had the welcome sight of two buffaloes on one of 
the large islands; and encamped at a clump of timber about seven 
miles from our noon halt, after a day's march of twenty-two miles. 

The air was keen the next morning at sunrise, the thermometer 
standing at 44°, and it was sufficiently cold to make overcoats very 
comfortable. A few miles brought us into the midst of the Buffalo, 
swarming in immense numbers over the plains, where they had left 
scarcely a blade of grass standing. Mr. Preuss, who was sketching at 
a little distance in the rear, had at first noted them as large groves of 
timber. In the sight of such a mass of life, the traveller feels a strange 
emotion of grandeur. We had heard from a distance a dull and con- 
fused murmuring, and when we came in view of their dark masses, 
there was not one among us who did not feel his heart beat quicker. 
It was the early part of the day, when the herds are feeding; and 
every where they were in motion. Here and there a huge old bull 
was rolling in the grass, and clouds of dust rose in the air from vari- 
ous parts of the bands, each the scene of some obstinate fight. Indians 
and buffalo make the poetry and life of the prairie, and our camp 
was full of their exhilaration. In place of the quiet monotony of 
the march, relieved only by the cracking of the whip, and an 
"avance done! enjant de garcel" shouts and songs resounded from 
every part of the line, and our evening camp was always the com- 
mencement of a feast, which terminated only with our departure on 


the following morning. At any time of the night might be seen 
pieces of the most delicate and choicest meat, roasting en appolas, on 
sticks around the fire, and the guard were never without company. 
With pleasant weather and no enemy to fear, an abundance of the 
most excellent meat, and no scarcity of bread or tobacco, they were 
enjoying the oasis of a voyageur's life. Three cows were killed to- 
day. Kit Carson had shot one, and was continuing the chase in the 
midst of another herd, when his horse fell headlong, but sprang up 
and joined the flying band. Though considerably hurt, he had the 
good fortune to break no bones, and Maxwell, who was mounted 
on a fleet hunter, captured the runaway after a hard chase. He was 
on the point of shooting him to avoid the loss of his bridle, a hand- 
somely mounted Spanish one, when he found that his horse was able 
to come up with him. Animals are frequently lost in this way; and 
it is necessary to keep close watch over them, in the vicinity of the 
buffalo, in the midst of which they scour oflf to the plains, and are 
rarely retaken. One of our mules took a sudden freak into his head, 
and joined a neighboring band to-day. As we were not in a condi- 
tion to lose horses, I sent several men in pursuit and remained in 
camp, in the hope of recovering him, but lost the afternoon to no 
purpose, as we did not see him again. Astronomical observations 
placed us in longitude 100° 38' 10", latitude 40° 49' 55". 

]uly 1. — Along our road to-day the prairie bottom was more 
elevated and dry, and the hills which border the right side of the 
river higher and more broken and picturesque in the outline. The 
country too was better timbered. As we were riding quietly along 
the bank, a grand herd of buffalo, some seven or eight hundred in 
number, came crowding up from the river, where they had been to 
drink, and commenced crossing the plain slowly, eating as they 
went. The wind was favorable, the coolness of the morning invited 
to exercise, the ground was apparently good, and the distance across 
the prairie, two or three miles, gave us a fine opportunity to charge 
them before they could get among the river hills. It was too fine a 
prospect for a chase to be lost, and, halting for a few moments, the 
hunters were brought up and saddled, and Kit Carson, Maxwell, and 
I, started together. They were now somewhat less than half a mile 
distant, and we rode easily along until within about three hundred 
yards, when a sudden agitation, a wavering in the band, and a gal- 
loping to and fro of some which were scattered along the skirts, gave 
us the intimation that we were discovered. We started together at a 


hand gallop, riding steadily abreast of each other, and here the in- 
terest of the chase became so engrossingly intense, that we were 
sensible to nothing else/" We were now closing upon them rapidly, 
and the front of the mass was already in rapid motion for the hills, 
and in a few seconds the movement had communicated itself to the 
whole herd. 

A crowd of bulls, as usual, brought up the rear, and every now 
and then some of them faced about, and then dashed on after the 
band a short distance, and turned and looked again, as if more than 
half inclined to stand and fight. In a few moments, however, dur- 
ing which we had been quickening our pace, the rout was universal, 
and we were going over the ground like a hurricane. When at about 
thirty yards we gave the usual shout, the hunter's pas de charge, 
and broke into the herd. We entered on the side, the mass giving 
way in every direction in their heedless course. Many of the bulls, 
less active and less fleet than the cows, paying no attention to the 
ground, and occupied solely with the hunter, were precipitated to 
the earth with great force, rolling over and over with the violence 
of the shock, and hardly distinguishable in the dust. We separated 
on entering, each singling out his game. 

My horse was a trained hunter, famous in the west under the 
name of Proveau, and with his eyes flashing, and the foam flying 
from his mouth, sprang on after the cow like a tiger. In a few mo- 
ments he brought me alongside of her, and rising in the stirrups, I 
fired at the distance of a yard, the ball entering at the termination of 
the long hair, and passing near the heart. She fell headlong at the 
report of the gun, and checking my horse, I looked around for my 
companions. At a little distance Kit was on the ground, engaged in 
tying his horse to the horns of a cow which he was preparing to cut 
up. Among the scattered bands at some distance below I caught a 
glimpse of Maxwell; and while I was looking, a light wreath of 
white smoke curled away from his gun, of which I was too far to 
hear the report. Nearer, and between me and the hills, towards 
which they were directing their course, was the body of the herd, 
and giving my horse the rein, we dashed after them. A thick cloud 
of dust hung upon their rear, which filled my mouth and eyes, and 

12. After this sentence, a prudent deletion in the manuscript draft: "Fifty 
Indians might have charged upon us and not been seen until they were at 
our bridles." 


nearly smothered me. In the midst of this I could see nothing, and 
the buffalo were not distinguishable until within thirty feet. They 
crowded together more densely still as I came upon them, and 
rushed along in such a compact body, that I could not obtain an 
entrance — the horse almost leaping upon them. In a few moments 
the mass divided to the right and left, the horns clattering with a 
noise heard above every thing else, and my horse darted into the 
opening. Five or six bulls charged on us as we dashed along the 
line, but were left far behind, and singling out a cow, I gave her my 
fire, but struck too high. She gave a tremendous leap, and scoured on 
swifter than before. I reined up my horse, and the band swept on 
like a torrent, and left the place quiet and clear.^^ Our chase had led 
us into dangerous ground. A prairie-dog village so thickly settled 
that there were three or four holes in every twenty yards square, 
occupied the whole bottom for nearly two miles in length. Looking 
around, I saw only one of the hunters, nearly out of sight, and the 
long dark line of our caravan crawling along, three or four miles 
distant. After a march of twenty-four miles, we encamped at night- 
fall, one mile and a half above the lower end of Brady's island." 
The breadth of this arm of the river was eight hundred and eighty 
yards, and the water nowhere two feet in depth. The island bears 
the name of a man killed on this spot some years ago. His party had 
encamped here, three in company, and one of the number went ofT 
to hunt, leaving Brady and his companion together. These two had 
frequently quarrelled, and on the hunter's return he found Brady 
dead, and was told that he had shot himself accidentally. He was 
buried here on the bank, but, as usual, the wolves had torn him out, 
and some human bones that were lying on the ground we supposed 
were his. Troops of wolves that were hanging on the skirts of the 
buffalo, kept up an uninterrupted howling during the night, ven- 
turing almost into camp. In the morning, they were sitting at a short 
distance, barking, and impatiently waiting our departure, to fall 
upon the bones. 
July 2. — The morning was cool and smoky. Our road led closer to 

13. Deleted from the manuscript draft at this point: "I looked around & 
saw only one of the hunters nearly out of sight, & the long dark line of our 
caravan crawling slowly along, three or four miles distant." 

14. Brady's Island, about fifteen miles long, lies just below North Platte, 
Nebr. It apparently was named after a man called Brada or Brady, variously 
reported to have been killed in 1827 or 1833 (anderson, 190n). 


the hills, which here increased in elevation, presenting an outline of 
conical peaks three hundred to five hundred feet high. Some timber, 
apparently pine, grew in the ravines, and streaks of clay or sand 
whiten their slopes. We crossed during the morning a number of 
hollows, timbered principally with box elder (acer jiegundo), poplar 
and elm. Brady's island is well wooded, and all the river along 
which our road led to-day may, in general, be called tolerably well 
timbered. We passed near an encampment of the Oregon emigrants, 
where they appear to have reposed several days. A variety of house- 
hold articles were scattered about, and they had probably disbur- 
dened themselves here of many things not absolutely necessary. I had 
left the usual road before the mid-day halt, and in the afternoon, 
having sent several men in advance to reconnoitre, marched directly 
for the mouth of the South fork. On our arrival, the horsemen were 
sent in and scattered about the river to search the best fording places, 
and the carts followed immediately. The stream is here divided by 
an island into two channels. The southern is four hundred and fifty 
feet wide, having eighteen or twenty inches water in the deepest 
places. With the exception of a few dry bars, the bed of the river is 
generally quicksands, in which the carts began to sink rapidly so 
soon as the mules halted, so that it was necessary to keep them con- 
stantly in motion. 

The northern channel, 2,250 feet wide, was somewhat deeper, hav- 
ing frequently three feet water in the numerous small channels, with 
a bed of coarse gravel. The whole breadth of the Nebraska [Platte], 
immediately below the junction, is 5,350 feet. All our equipage had 
reached the left bank safely at six o'clock, having to-day made 
twenty miles. We encamped at the point of land immediately at the 
junction of the North and South forks. Between the streams is a 
low rich prairie, extending from their confluence 18 miles west- 
wardly to the bordering hills, where it is 5| miles wide. It is covered 
with a luxuriant growth of grass, and along the banks is a slight and 
scattered fringe of cottonwood and willow. In the buffalo trails and 
wallows, I remarked saline efflorescences, to which a rapid evapora- 
tion in the great heat of the sun probably contributes, as the soil is 
entirely unprotected by timber. In the vicinity of these places there 
was a bluish grass, which the cattle refuse to eat, called by the 
voyageurs "herbe sake," (salt grass). The latitude of the junction is 
41° 4' 47", and longitude by chronometer and lunar distances, 
10r21'24". The elevation above the sea is about 2,700 feet. The 


hunters came in with a fat cow, and, as we had labored hard, we en- 
joyed well a supper of roasted ribs and boudins, the chej d'ceuvre of 
a prairie cook. Mosquitoes thronged about us this evening; but, by 
10 o'clock, when the thermometer had fallen to 47°, they had all 

]uly 3. — As this was to be a point in our homeward journey, I 
made a cache (a term used in all this country for what is hidden in 
the ground) of a barrel of pork. It was impossible to conceal such a 
proceeding from the sharp eyes of our Cheyenne companions, and I 
therefore told them to go and see what it was they were burying. 
They would otherwise have not failed to return and destroy our 
cache, in expectation of some rich booty; but pork they dislike and 
never eat. We left our camp at 9, continuing up the South fork, the 
prairie bottom affording us a fair road; but in the long grass we 
roused myriads of mosquitoes and flies, from which our horses suf- 
fered severely. The day was smoky, with a pleasant breeze from, the 
south, and the plains on the opposite side were covered with bufiFalo. 
Having travelled twenty-five miles we encamped at 6 in the evening, 
and the men were sent across the river for wood, as there is none 
here on the left bank. Our fires were partially made of the hois de 
vache, the dry excrement of the bufTalo, which like that of the camel 
in the Arabian deserts, furnishes to the traveller a very good sub- 
stitute for wood, burning like turf. Wolves in great numbers sur- 
rounded us during the night, crossing and recrossing from the 
opposite herds to our camp, and howling and trotting about in the 
river until morning. 

luly 4. — The morning was very smoky, the sun shining dimly and 
red, as in a thick fog. The camp was roused with a salute at day- 
break, and from our scanty store a portion of what our Indian 
friends called the "red fire water" served out to the men. While we 
were at breakfast, a buffalo calf broke through the camp, followed 
by a couple of wolves. In its fright, it had probably mistaken us for 
a band of bufTalo. The wolves were obliged to make a circuit around 
the camp, so that the calf got a little the start, and strained every 
nerve to reach a large herd at the foot of the hills, about two miles 
distant; but first one and then another and another wolf joined in 
the chase, until his pursuers amounted to twenty or thirty, and they 

15. Here the manuscript draft carries the phrase, "Characteristic Plants,' 
but none are named. 


ran him down before he could reach his friends. There were a few 
bulls near the place, and one of them attacked the wolves and tried to 
rescue him; but was driven off immediately, and the little animal fell 
an easy prey, half devoured before he was dead. We watched the 
chase with the interest always felt for the weak, and had there been 
a saddled horse at hand, he would have fared better. Leaving camp, 
our road soon approached the hills in which strata of a marl like 
that of the chimney rock, hereafter described, make their appear- 
ance. It is probably of this rock that the hills on the right bank of the 
Platte, a little below the junction, are composed, and which are 
worked by the winds and rains into sharp peaks and cones, giving 
them, in contrast to the surrounding level region, something of a 
picturesque appearance. We crossed this morning numerous beds of 
the small creeks which, in the time of rains and melting snow, pour 
down from the ridge, bringing down with them always great quan- 
tities of sand and gravel, which have gradually raised their beds 
four to ten feet above the level of the prairie which they cross, mak- 
ing each one of them a miniature Po. Raised in this way above the 
surrounding prairie, without any bank, the long yellow and wind- 
ing line of their beds resembles a causeway from the hills to 
the river. Many spots on the prairie are yellow with sunflower 

As we were riding slowly along this afternoon, clouds of dust in 
the ravines among the hills to the right, suddenly attracted our at- 
tention, and in a few minutes column after column of buffalo came 
galloping down, making directly to the river. By the time the lead- 
ing herds had reached the water, the prairie was darkened with the 
dense masses. Immediately before us, when the bands first came 
down into the valley, stretched an unbroken line, the head of which 
was lost among the river hills on the opposite side, and still they poured 
down from the ridge on our right. From hill to hill the prairie bot- 
tom was certainly not less than two miles wide, and allowing the 
animals to be ten feet apart, and only ten in a line, there were al- 
ready 11,000 in view. Some idea may thus be formed of their number 
when they had occupied the whole plain. In a short time they sur- 
rounded us on every side, extending for several miles in the rear, and 
forward, as far as the eye could reach, leaving around us as we ad- 
vanced, an open space of only two or three hundred yards. This 
movement of the bufifalo indicated to us the presence of Indians on 
the North fork. 


I halted earlier than usual, about forty miles from the junction, 
and all hands were soon busily engaged in preparing a feast to cele- 
brate the day. The kindness of our friends at St. Louis had provided 
us with a large supply of excellent preserves and rich fruit cake; and 
when these were added to a macaroni soup and variously prepared 
dishes of the choicest buffalo meat, crowned with a cup of coffee, 
and enjoyed with prairie appetite, we felt, as we sat in barbaric 
luxury around our smoking supper on the grass, a greater sensation 
of enjoyment than the Roman epicure at his perfumed feast. But 
most of all it seemed to please our Indian friends, who in the unre- 
strained enjoyment of the moment, demanded to know if our "med- 
icine days came often." No restraint was exercised at the hospitable 
board, and, to the great delight of his elders, our young Indian lad 
made himself extremely drunk. 

Our encampment was within a few miles of the place where the 
road crosses to the North fork, and various reasons led me to divide 
my party at this point. The North fork was the principal object of 
my survey, but I was desirous to ascend the South branch, with a 
view of obtaining some astronomical positions, and determining the 
mouths of its tributaries as far as St. Vrain's fort, estimated to be 
some two hundred miles further up the river, and near to Long's 
peak. There I hoped to obtain some mules, which I found would be 
necessary to relieve my horses. In a military point of view, I was 
desirous to form some opinion of the country relative to the estab- 
lishment of posts on a line connecting the settlements with the 
South pass of the Rocky mountains, by way of the Arkansas, the 
South and Laramie forks of the Platte. Crossing the country north- 
westwardly from St. Vrain's fort, to the American company's fort at 
the mouth of Laramie, would give me some acquaintance with the 
affluents which head in the mountains between the two; I therefore 
determined to set out the next morning, accompanied by Mr. Preuss 
and four men. Maxwell, Bernier, Ayot, and Basil Lajeunesse. Our 
Cheyennes, whose village lay up this river, also decided to accom- 
pany us. The party I left in charge of Clement Lambert, with orders 
to cross to the North fork ; and at some convenient place, near to the 
Coulee des Frenes [Ash Hollow], make a cache of every thing not 
absolutely necessary to the further progress of our expedition. From 
this point, using the most guarded precaution in his march through 
the country, he was to proceed to the American [Fur] company's fort 
at the mouth of Laramie's fork, and await my arrival, which would 


be prior to the 16th, as on that and the following night would occur 
some occultations which I was desirous to obtain at that place. 

July 5. — Before breakfast all was ready. We had one led horse in 
addition to those we rode, and a pack mule, destined to carry our 
instruments, provisions, and baggage; the last two articles not being 
of very great weight. The instruments consisted of a sextant, artifi- 
cial horizon, &c., a barometer, spy glass, and compass. The chronom- 
eter I of course kept on my person. I had ordered the cook to put up 
for us some flour, cofTee, and sugar, and our rifles were to furnish the 
rest. One blanket, in addition to his saddle and saddle blanket, fur- 
nished the materials for each man's bed, and every one was provided 
with a change of linen. All were armed with rifles or double bar- 
relled guns; and, in addition to these, Maxwell and myself were fur- 
nished with excellent pistols. Thus accoutred, we took a parting 
breakfast with our friends, and set forth. 

Our journey the first day afforded nothing of any interest. We 
shot a buffalo toward sunset, and having obtained some meat for our 
evening meal, encamped where a little timber afforded us the means 
of making a fire. Having disposed our meat on roasting sticks, we 
proceeded to unpack our bales in search of coffee and sugar, and 
flour for bread. With the exception of a little parched coffee, un- 
ground, we found nothing. Our cook had neglected to put it up, or 
it had been somehow forgotten. Tired and hungry, with tough bull 
meat without salt, for we had not been able to kill a cow, and a little 
bitter coffee, we sat down in silence to our miserable fare, a very 
disconsolate party; for yesterday's feast was yet fresh in our mem- 
ories, and this was our first brush with misfortune. Each man took 
his blanket, and laid himself down silently; for the worst part of 
these mishaps is, that they make people ill-humored. To-day we had 
travelled about thirty-six miles. 

]uly 6. — Finding that our present excursion would be attended 
with considerable hardship, and unwilling to expose more persons 
than necessary, I determined to send Mr. Preuss back to the party. 
His horse, too, appeared in no condition to support the journey, and 
accordingly, after breakfast, he took the road across the hills attended 
by one of my most trusty men, Bernier. The ridge between the rivers 
is here about fifteen miles broad, and I expected he would probably 
strike the fork near their evening camp. At all events, he would not 
fail to find their trail and rejoin them the next day. 

We continued our journey, seven in number, including the three 



Cheyennes. Our general course was southwest, up the valley of the 
river, which was sandy, bordered on the northern side of the valley 
by a low ridge, and on the south, after seven or eight miles, the river 
hills became higher. Six miles from our resting place we crossed the 
bed of a considerable stream, now entirely dry, a bed of sand. In a 
grove of willows, near the mouth, were the remains of a considerable 
fort, constructed of trunks of large trees. It was apparently very old, 
and had probably been the scene of some hostile encounter among 
the roving tribes. Its solitude formed an impressive contrast to the 
picture which our imaginations involuntarily drew of the busy scene 
which had been enacted here. The timber appeared to have been 
much more extensive formerly than now. There were but few trees, 
a kind of long-leaved willow, standing; and numerous trunks of 
large trees were scattered about on the ground. In many similar 
places I had occasion to remark an apparent progressive decay in the 
timber. Ten miles farther we reached the mouth of Lodge Pole 
creek,^^ a clear and handsome stream, running through a broad 
valley. In its course through the bottom it has a uniform breadth of 
twenty-two feet, and six inches in depth. A few willows on the 
banks strike pleasantly on the eye, by their greenness, in the midst of 
the hot and barren sands. 

The amor p ha was frequent among the ravines, but the sunflower 
{heUanthus) was the characteristic; and flowers of deep warm colors 
seem most to love the sandy soil. The impression of the country 
travelled over to-day was one of dry and barren sands. We turned in 
towards the river at noon, and gave our horses two hours for food 
and rest. I had no other thermometer than the one attached to the 
barometer, which stood at 89°, the height of the column in the 
barometer being 26.235, at meridian. The sky was clear, with a high 
wind from the south. At 2, we continued our journey; the wind had 
moderated, and it became almost unendurably hot, and our animals 
suffered severely. In the course of the afternoon, the wind rose sud- 
denly, and blew hard from the southwest, with thunder and light- 
ning and squalls of rain ; these were blown against us with violence 
by the wind, and, halting, we turned our backs to the storm until it 
blew over. Antelope were tolerably frequent, with a large gray hare; 
but the former were shy, and the latter hardly worth the delay of 

16. Called Pole Creek on his map, but now Lodgepole Creek, entering the 
South Platte from the north at Julesburg, Colo. 


stopping to shoot them ; so, as the evening drew near, we again had 
recourse to an old bull, and encamped at sunset on an island in the 

We ate our meat with good relish this evening, for we were all in 
fine health, and had ridden nearly all of a long summer's day, with 
a burning sun reflected from the sands. My companions slept rolled 
up in their blankets, and the Indians lay in the grass near the fire, 
but my sleeping place generally had an air of more pretension. Our 
rifles were tied together near the muzzle, the butts resting on the 
ground, and a knife laid on the rope, to cut away in case of an 
alarm. Over this, which made a kind of frame, was thrown a large 
India-rubber cloth, which we used to cover our packs. This made a 
tent sufficiently large to receive about half of my bed, and was a 
place of shelter for my instruments; and as I was careful always to 
put this part against the wind, I could lie here with a sensation of 
satisfied enjoyment, and hear the wind blow and the rain patter 
close to my head, and know that I should be at least half dry. Cer- 
tainly, I never slept more soundly. The barometer at sunset was 
26.010, thermometer 81°, and cloudy; but a gale from the west 
sprang up with the setting sun, and in a few minutes swept away 
every cloud from the sky. The evening was very fine, and I re- 
mained up to take some astronomical observations, which made our 
position in latitude 40° 51' 17", and longitude 103° 35' 04". 

]uly 7. — At our camp this morning, at 6 o'clock, the barometer was 
at 26.183, thermometer 69°, and clear, with a light wind from the 
southwest. The past night had been squally, with high winds, and 
occasionally a few drops of rain. Our cooking did not occupy much 
time, and we left camp early. Nothing of interest occurred during 
the morning. The same dreary barrenness, except that a hard marly 
clay had replaced the sandy soil. Buffalo absolutely covered the plain 
on both sides of the river, and whenever we ascended the hills, scat- 
tered herds gave life to the view in every direction. A small drove of 
wild horses made their appearance on the low river bottoms, a mile 
or two to the left, and I sent off one of the Indians (who seemed 
very eager to catch one) on my led horse, a spirited and fleet animal. 
The savage manoeuvred a little to get the wind of the horses, in 
which he succeeded; approaching within a hundred yards without 
being discovered. The chase for a few minutes was animated and in- 
teresting. My hunter easily overtook and passed the hindmost of the 
wild drove, which the Indian did not attempt to lasso; all his efforts 


being directed to the capture of the leader. But the strength of the 
horse, weakened by the insufficient nourishment of grass, failed in a 
race, and all the drove escaped. We halted at noon on the bank of the 
river, the barometer at that time being 26.192, and the thermometer 
103°, with a light air from the south and clear weather. 

In the course of the afternoon, dust rising among the hills at a 
particular place, attracted our attention, and riding up we found 
a band of eighteen or twenty buffalo bulls engaged in a desperate 
fight. Though butting and goring were bestowed liberally and with- 
out distinction, yet their efforts were evidently directed against one, 
a huge gaunt old bull, very lean, while his adversaries were all fat 
and in good order. He appeared very weak, and had already received 
some wounds, and while we were looking on was several times 
knocked down and badly hurt, and a very few moments would have 
put an end to him. Of course we took the side of the weaker party, 
and attacked the herd, but they were so blind with rage that they 
fought on, utterly regardless of our presence, although on foot and 
on horseback we were firing in open view within twenty yards of 
them. But this did not last long. In a very few seconds we created a 
commotion among them. One or two which were knocked over by 
the balls jumped up and ran ofT into the hills, and they began to 
retreat slowly along a broad ravine to the river, fighting furiously as 
they went. By the time they had reached the bottom we had pretty 
well dispersed them, and the old bull hobbled off, to lie down some- 
where. One of his enemies remained on the ground where we had 
first fired upon them, and we stopped there for a short time to cut 
from him some meat for our supper. We had neglected to secure our 
horses, thinking it an unnecessary precaution in their fatigued con- 
dition; but our mule took it into his head to start, and away he went, 
followed at full speed by the pack horse, with all the baggage and 
instruments on his back. They were recovered and brought back, 
after a chase of a mile. Fortunately every thing was well secured, so 
that nothing, not even the barometer, was in the least injured. 

The sun was getting low, and some narrow lines of timber four or 
five miles distant, promised us a pleasant camp, where, with plenty 
of wood for fire, and comfortable shelter, and rich grass for our 
animals, we should find clear cool springs, instead of the warm water 
of the Platte. On our arrival we found the bed of a stream fifty to 
one hundred feet wide, sunk some thirty feet below the level of the 
prairie, with perpendicular banks, bordered by a fringe of green 


Cottonwood, but not a drop of water. There were several small forks 
to the stream all in the same condition. With the exception of the 
Platte bottom, the country seemed to be of a clay formation, dry, and 
perfectly devoid of any moisture, and baked hard by the sun. Turn- 
ing off towards the river, we reached the bank in about a mile, and 
were delighted to find an old tree, with thick foliage and spreading 
branches, where we encamped. At sunset, the barometer was at 
25,950, thermometer 81°, with a strong wind from S. 20° E., and the 
sky partially covered with heavy masses of cloud, which settled a 
little towards the horizon by 10 o'clock, leaving it sufficiently clear 
for astronomical observations, which placed us in latitude 40° 33' 26", 
and longitude 104° 02' 13". 

July 8. — The morning was very pleasant. The breeze was fresh 
from S. 50° E. with few clouds; the barometer at 6 o'clock standing 
at 25,970, and the thermometer at 70°. Since leaving the forks, our 
route had passed over a country alternately clay and sand, each pre- 
senting the same naked waste. On leaving camp this morning, we 
struck again a sandy region, in which the vegetation appeared some- 
what more vigorous than that which we had observed for the last few 
days, and on the opposite side of the river were some tolerably large 
groves of timber. 

Journeying along, we came suddenly upon a place where the 
ground was covered with horses' tracks, which had been made since 
the rain, and indicated the immediate presence of Indians in our 
neighborhood. The bufFalo, too, which the day before had been so 
numerous, were nowhere in sight, another sure indication that there 
were people near. Riding on, we discovered the carcass of a buffalo 
recently killed, perhaps the day before. We scanned the horizon 
carefully with the glass, but no living object was to be seen. For the 
next mile or two the ground was dotted with buffalo carcasses, 
which showed that the Indians had made a surround here, and were 
in considerable force. We went on quickly and cautiously, keeping 
the river bottom, and carefully avoiding the hills; but we met with 
no interruption, and began to grow careless again. We had already 
lost one of our horses, and here Basil's mule showed symptoms of 
giving out, and finally refused to advance, being what the Canadians 
call reste. He therefore dismounted, and drove her along before him, 
but this was a very slow way of travelling. We had inadvertently got 
about half a mile in advance, but our Cheyennes, who were gener- 
ally a mile or two in the rear, remained with him. There were some 


dark looking objects among the hills, about two miles to the left, 
here low and undulating, which we had seen for a little time, and 
supposed to be buffalo coming in to water; but happening to look 
behind, Maxwell saw the Cheyennes whipping up furiously, and an- 
other glance at the dark objects showed them at once to be Indians 
coming up at speed. 

Had we been well mounted and disencumbered of instruments, 
we might have set them at defiance, but as it was, we were fairly 
caught. It was too late to rejoin our friends, and we endeavored to 
gain a clump of timber about half a mile ahead; but the instruments 
and the tired state of our horses did not allow us to go faster than a 
steady canter, and they were gaining on us fast. At first they did not 
appear to be more than fifteen or twenty in number, but group after 
group darted into view at the top of the hills, until all the little 
eminences seemed in motion, and in a few minutes from the time 
they were first discovered, two or three hundred, naked to the 
breech cloth, were sweeping across the prairie. In a few hundred 
yards we discovered that the timber we were endeavoring to make 
was on the opposite side of the river, and before we could reach the 
bank, down came the Indians upon us. 

I am inclined to think that in a few seconds more the leading 
man, and perhaps, some of his companions, would have rolled in the 
dust, for we had jerked the covers from our guns, and our fingers 
were on the triggers ; men in such cases generally act from instinct, 
and a charge from three hundred naked savages is a circumstance 
not well calculated to promote a cool exercise of judgment. Just as he 
was about to fire. Maxwell recognized the leading Indian, and 
shouted to him in the Indian language. You're a fool, God damn 
you, don't you know me ? The sound of his own language seemed to 
shock the savage, and, swerving his horse a little, he passed us like 
an arrow. He wheeled, as I rode out toward him, and gave me his 
hand, striking his breast and exclaiming, Arapaho! They proved to 
be a village of that nation among whom Maxwell had resided as a 
trader a year or two previously, and recognized him accordingly. We 
were soon in the midst of the band, answering as well as we could 
a multitude of questions, of which the very first was, of what tribe 
were our Indian companions who were coming in the rear? They 
seemed disappointed to know that they were Cheyennes, for they 
had fully anticipated a grand dance around a Pawnee scalp that 


The chief showed us his village at a grove on the river six miles 
ahead, and pointed out a band of Buffalo, on the other side of the 
Platte immediately opposite us, which he said they were going to 
surround. They had seen the band early in the morning from their 
village, and had been making a large circuit to avoid giving them 
the wind, when they discovered us. In a few minutes the women 
came galloping up, astride on their horses, and naked from their 
knees down, and the hips up. They followed the men to assist in cut- 
ting up and carrying ofif the meat. 

The wind was blowing directly across the river, and the chief re- 
quested us to halt where we were, for a while, in order to avoid rais- 
ing the herd. We, therefore, unsaddled our horses, and sat down on 
the bank to view the scene, and our new acquaintances rode a few 
hundred yards lower down, and began crossing the river. Scores of 
wild looking dogs followed, looking like troops of wolves, and hav- 
ing, in fact, but very little of the dog in their composition. Some of 
them remained with us, and I checked one of the men, whom I 
found aiming at one, which he was about to kill for a wolf. The day 
had become very hot. The air was clear, with a very slight breeze, and 
now, at twelve o'clock, while the barometer stood at 25.920, the at- 
tached thermometer was at 108°. Our Cheyennes had learned that 
with the Arapaho village, were about twenty lodges of their own, in- 
cluding their own families; they, therefore, immediately commenced 
making their toilette. After bathing in the river, they invested them- 
selves in some handsome calico shirts, which I afterward learned they 
had stolen from my own men, and spent some time in arranging their 
hair and painting themselves with some vermillion I had given 
them. While they were engaged in this satisfactory manner, one of 
their half wild horses, to which the crowd of prancing animals 
which had just passed had recalled the freedom of her existence 
among the wild droves on the prairie, suddenly dashed into the hills 
at the top of her speed. She was their pack horse, and had on her 
back all the worldly wealth of our poor Cheyennes, all their ac- 
coutrements, and all the little articles which they had picked up 
among us, with some few presents I had given them. The loss which 
they seemed to regret most were their spears and shields, and some 
tobacco which they had received from me. However, they bore it all 
with the philosophy of an Indian, and laughingly continued their 
toilette. They appeared, however, a little mortified at the thought of 
returning to the village in such a sorry plight. "Our people will 


laugh at us," said one of them, "returning to the village on foot, in- 
stead of driving back a drove of Pawnee horses." He demanded to 
know if I loved my sorrel hunter very much, to which I replied he 
was the object of my most intense affection. Far from being able to 
give, I was myself in want of horses, and any suggestion of parting 
with the few I had valuable, was met with peremptory refusal. In 
the mean time the slaughter was about to commence on the other 
side. So soon as they reached it, the Indians separated into two 
bodies. One party proceeded directly across the prairie toward the 
hills in an extended line, while the other went up the river; and in- 
stantly as they had given the wind to the herd, the chase commenced. 
The buffalo started for the hills, but were intercepted and driven 
back toward the river, broken and running in every direction. The 
clouds of dust soon covered the whole scene, preventing us from hav- 
ing any but an occasional view. It had a very singular appearance to 
us at a distance, especially when looking with the glass. We were too 
far to hear the report of the guns, or any sound, and at every instant, 
through the clouds of dust which the sun made luminous, we could 
see for a moment two or three buffalo dashing along, and close be- 
hind them an Indian with his long spear, or other weapon, and 
instantly again they disappeared. The apparent silence, and the 
dimly seen figures flitting by with such rapidity, gave it a kind of 
dreamy effect, and seemed more like a picture than a scene of real 
life. It had been a large herd when the cevfie commenced, probably 
three or four hundred in number; but, though I watched them 
closely, I did not see one emerge from the fatal cloud where the 
work of destruction was going on. After remaining here about an 
hour, we resumed our journey in the direction of the village. 

Gradually, as we rode on, Indian after Indian came dropping 
along, laden with meat; and by the time we had neared the lodges, 
the backward road was covered with the returning horsemen. It was 
a pleasant contrast with the desert road we had been travelling. Sev- 
eral had joined company with us, and one of the chiefs invited us to 
his lodge. The village consisted of about one hundred and twenty- 
five lodges, of which twenty were Cheyennes; the latter pitched a 
little apart from the Arapahoes. They were disposed in a scattering 
manner on both sides of a broad irregular street, about one hundred 
and fifty feet wide, and running along the river. As we rode along, 
I remarked near some of the lodges a kind of tripod frame, formed of 


three slender poles of birch, scraped very clean, to which were affixed 
the shield and spear, with some other weapons of a chief. All were 
scrupulously clean, the spear head was burnished bright, and the 
shield white and stainless. It reminded me of the days of feudal 
chivalry; and when as I rode by I yielded to the passing impulse, 
and touched some of the spotless shields with the muzzle of my 
gun, I almost expected a grim warrior to start from the lodge and 
resent my challenge. The master of the lodge spread out a robe for 
me to sit upon, and the squaws set before us a large wooden dish of 
buffalo meat. He had lit his pipe in the meanwhile, and when it had 
been passed around, we commenced our dinner while he continued 
to smoke. Gradually, five or six other chiefs came in, and took their 
seats in silence. When we had finished, our host asked a number of 
questions relative to the object of our journey, of which I made no 
concealment; telling him simply that I had made a visit to see the 
country, preparatory to the establishment of military posts on the 
way to the mountains. Although this was information of the highest 
interest to them, and by no means calculated to please them, it ex- 
cited no expression of surprise, and in no way altered the grave 
courtesy of their demeanor. The others listened and smoked. I re- 
marked, that in taking the pipe for the first time, each had turned 
the stem upward, with a rapid glance, as in offering to the Great 
Spirit, before he put it in his mouth. A storm had been gathering 
for the past hour, and some pattering drops on the lodge warned us 
that we had some miles to our camp. Some Indian had given Max- 
well a bundle of dried meat, which was very acceptable, as we had 
nothing, and, springing upon our horses, we rode off at dusk in the 
face of a cold shower and driving wind. We found our companions 
under some densely foliaged old trees, about three miles up the 
river. Under one of them lay the trunk of a large cottonwood, to 
leeward of which the man had kindled a fire, and we sat here and 
roasted our meat in tolerable shelter. Nearly opposite was the mouth 
of one of the most considerable affluents of the South fork, la 
Fourche aux Castors (Beaver fork)/' heading off in the ridge to 
the southeast. 

]uly 9. — This morning we caught the first faint glimpse of the 
Rocky Mountains, about sixty miles distant. Though a tolerably 

17. Beaver Creek, entering from the south near Brush, Colo. 


bright day, there was a sHght mist, and we were just able to discern 
the snowy summit of "Long's peak," {"les deux oreilles" of the 
Canadians,) showing like a small cloud near the horizon. I found 
it easily distinguishable, there being a perceptible difference in its 
appearance from the white clouds that were floating about the sky. 
I was pleased to find that among the traders and voyageurs the 
name of "Long's peak" had been adopted and become familiar in 
the country.^^ In the ravines near this place, a light brown sandstone 
made its first appearance. About 8, we discerned several persons on 
horseback a mile or two ahead on the opposite side of the river. 
They turned in towards the river, and we rode down to meet them. 
We found them to be two white men, and a mulatto named Jim 
Beckwith,^^ who had left St. Louis when a boy, and gone to live 
with the Crow Indians. He had distinguished himself among them 
by some acts of daring bravery, and had risen to the rank of a chief, 
but had now, for some years, left them. They were in search of a 
band of horses that had gone ofif from a camp some miles above, in 
charge of Mr. Chabonard.^" Two of them continued down the river, 
in search of the horses, and the American turned back with us, and 
we rode on towards the camp. About eight miles from our sleeping 
place we reached Bijou's fork [Bijou Creek], an affluent of the right 
bank. Where we crossed it, a short distance from the Platte, it has a 
sandy bed about four hundred yards broad; the water in various 
small streams, a few inches deep. Seven miles further brought us to 

18. Long's Peak in north central Colorado is, at 14,255 feet, the highest 
peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is named for Stephen H. Long, 
whose 1820 expedition to the Rockies was the second U.S. Army reconnais- 
sance (the first was Zebulon Pike's in 1806-7) of that general region. 

19. James P. Beckwourth (1798-1866) lived among the Crows from about 
1829 to 1831, then traded among them for the American Fur Company. He 
operated on the Upper Missouri until 28 June 1836, when F. A. Chardon 
reported his departure from Fort Clark at the Mandan villages. He was trad- 
ing on the upper Arkansas and South Platte when JCF encountered him. 

20. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (1805-66), son of Toussaint Charbonneau 
and his Shoshoni wife Sacagawea, had accompanied his mother and father on 
the Lewis and Clark expedition as a child, starting at the Mandan villages. 
After the expedition, William Clark undertook to educate young Jean Bap- 
tiste, and there are records of Clark's involvement as late as 1820. After a stay 
in Europe (1823-29) with Prince Paul, Duke of Wiirttemburg, he returned 
to the West and became an employee of various fur companies. In 1843, he 
would accompany Sir William Drummond Stewart part way to the Rockies, 
and in 1846 help guide the Mormon Battalion across New Mexico and 
Arizona (a. hafen [1]; anderson, 283-88). 


a camp of some four or five whites, New Englanders, I believe, 
who had accompanied Captain Wyeth^^ to the Columbia river, and 
were independent trappers. All had their squaws with them, and 
I was really surprised at the number of little fat buffalo-fed boys, 
that were tumbling about the camp, all apparently of the same age, 
about three or four years old. They were encamped on a rich bot- 
tom, covered with a profusion of fine grass, and had a large number 
of fine-looking horses and mules. We rested with them a few min- 
utes, and in about two miles arrived at Chabonard's camp, on an 
island in the Platte. On the heights above, we met the first Spaniard 
I had seen in the country. Mr. Chabonard was in the service of Bent 
and St. Vrain's company, and had left their fort some forty or fifty 
miles above, in the spring, with boats laden with the furs of the last 
year's trade. He had met the same fortune as the voyageurs on the 
North fork, and finding it impossible to proceed, had taken up his 
summer's residence on this island, which he had named St. Helena. 
The river hills appeared to be composed entirely of sand, and the 
Platte had lost the muddy character of its waters, and here was tol- 
erably clear. From the mouth of the South fork, I had found it oc- 
casionally broken up by small islands, and at the time of our 
journey, which was at a season of the year when the waters were 
at a favorable stage, it was not navigable for anything drawing six 
inches water. The current was very swift — the bed of the stream a 
coarse gravel. 

From the place at which we had encountered the Arapahoes, the 
Platte had been tolerably well fringed with timber, and the island 
here had a fine grove of very large cottonwoods, under whose broad 
shade the tents were pitched. There was a large drove of horses in 
the opposite prairie bottom; smoke was rising from the scattered 
fires, and the encampment had quite a patriarchal air. Mr. C. re- 
ceived us hospitably. One of the people was sent to gather mint, 
with the aid of which he concocted very good julep; and some 
boiled buffalo tongue, and cofTee with the luxury of sugar, were soon 
set before us. The people in his employ were generally Spaniards, 
and among them I saw a young Spanish woman from Taos, whom 
I found to be Beckwith's wife. 

21. Capt. Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth (1802-56), the builder of Fort William 
at the mouth of the Willamette and Fort Hall on the Snake River in Idaho, 
had made two overland journeys to Oregon and had done much to publicize 
the region. 



]uly 10. — We parted with our hospitable host after breakfast the 
next morning, and reached St. Vrain's fort,"" about forty-five miles 
from St. Helena, late in the evening. The post is situated on the 
South fork of the Platte, immediately under the mountains, about 
seventeen miles east of Long's peak. It is on the right bank, on the 
verge of the upland prairie, about forty feet above the river, of 
which the immediate valley is about six hundred yards wide. The 
stream is divided into various branches by small islands, among 
which it runs with a swift current. The bed of the river is sand and 
gravel, the water very clear, and here may be called a mountain 
stream. This region appears to be entirely free from the limestones 
and marls which give to the lower Platte its yellow and dirty color. 
The Black hills""^ lie between the stream and the mountains, whose 
snowy peaks glitter a few miles beyond. At the fort we found Mr. 
St. Vrain,"^ who received us with much kindness and hospitality. 
Maxwell had spent the last two or three years between this post 
and the village of Taos, and here he was at home and among his 
friends. Spaniards frequently came over in search of employment, 
and several came in shortly after our arrival. They usually obtain 
about six dollars a month, generally paid to them in goods. They 
are very useful in a camp in taking care of horses and mules, and I 
engaged one, who proved to be an active, laborious man, and was 
of very considerable service to me."^ The elevation of the Platte here 
is 5,400 feet above the sea. The neighboring mountains did not ap- 
pear to enter far the region of perpetual snow, which was generally 
confined to the northern side of the peaks. On the southern I re- 
marked very little. Here it appeared, so far as I could judge in the 

22. Fort St. Vrain, about twelve miles below the mouth of St. Vrain Creek, 
was first called Fort Lookout and was also sometimes called Fort George. It 
was probably completed after 1837 and closed in 1845, although Bent, St. 
Vrain & Co. made temporary and seasonal use of it for several years (carter 


23. Dale L. Morgan has suggested, and the matter is worth further study, 
that JCF conceived of this entire area from Fort Laramie south to the Cache 
la Poudre as comprising a general range of "Black Hills." (There are other 
formations bearing this name, of course, such as those in South Dakota.) For 
support of Morgan's suggestion, see Map 2 in the Portfolio, showing such a 
range extending on as far as the Red Buttes. 

24. Marcellin St. Vrain (1815-71), younger brother of the better known 
Ceran St. Vrain, had taken charge of the fort about 1837 (carter [2]). 

25. This is the man listed in the vouchers as Osea Harmiyo | Jose Armijo], 
who continued on with the exploring party. 


distance, to descend but a few hundred feet below the summits. 
I regretted that time did not permit me to visit them; but the 
proper object of my survey lay among the mountains further north; 
and I looked forward to an exploration of their snowy recesses with 
great pleasure. The piney region of the mountains to the south was 
enveloped in smoke, and I was informed had been on fire for several 
months. Pike's peak is said to be visible from this place, about 100 
miles to the southward, but the smoky state of the atmosphere pre- 
vented my seeing it. The weather continued overcast during my stay 
here, so that I failed in determining the latitude, but obtained good 
observation for time on the mornings of the 11th and 12th. An 
assumed latitude of 40° 22' 30" from the evening position of the 
12th, enabled me to obtain, for a tolerably correct longitude, 105° 

45' ir. 

July 12.— The kindness of Mr. St. Vrain had enabled me to obtain 
a couple of horses and three good mules, and, with a further addi- 
tion to our party of the Spaniard whom I had hired, and two others, 
who were going to obtain service at Laramie's fork, we resumed our 
journey at 10, on the morning of the 12th. We had been able to pro- 
cure nothing at the post in the way of provision. An expected supply 
from Taos had not yet arrived, and a few pounds of coffee was all 
that could be spared to us. In addition to this, we had dried meat 
enough for the first day; on the next we expected to find bufTalo. 
From this post, according to the estimate of the country, the fort 
at the mouth of Laramie's fork, which was our next point of des- 
tination, was nearly due north, distant about one hundred and 
twenty-five miles. 

For a short distance, our road lay down the valley of the Platte; 
which resembled a garden in the splendor of fields of varied flowers, 
which filled the air with fragrance. The only timber I noticed con- 
sisted of poplar, birch [alder], cotton wood, and willow. In some- 
thing less than three miles, we crossed Thompson's creek [Thomp- 
son River], one of the affluents to the left bank of the South fork, 
a fine stream about sixty-five feet wide and three feet deep. Journey- 
ing on, the low dark line of the Black hills lying between us and 
the mountains to the leit, in about ten miles from the fort, we 
reached Cache a la Poudre [River], where we halted to noon. This 
is a very beautiful mountain stream, about one hundred feet wide, 
flowing with a full swift current over a rocky bed. We halted under 
the shade of some cottonwoods, with which the stream is wooded 



scatteringly. In the upper part of its course, it runs amid the wildest 
mountain scenery, and breaking through the Black Hills falls into 
the Platte about ten miles below this place. In the course of our 
late journey, I had managed to become the possessor of a very untrac- 
table mule, a perfect vixen, and her I had turned over to my Span- 
iard. It occupied us about half an hour to-day to get the saddle upon 
her; but, once on her back Jose could not be dismounted, realizing 
the accounts given of Mexican horses and horsemanship; and we 
continued our route in the afternoon. 

At evening, we encamped on Crow (?) creek, having travelled 
about twenty-eight miles. None of the party were well acquainted 
with the country, and I had great difficulty in ascertaining what were 
the names of the streams we crossed between the North and South 
forks of the Platte. This I supposed to be Crow creek."^ It is 
what is called a salt stream, and the water stands in pools, having 
no continuous course. A fine grained sandstone made its appearance 
in the banks. The observations of the night placed us in a latitude 
40° 42', longitude 105° 33' 27". The barometer at sunset was 25.231 ; 
attached thermometer at 66°. Sky clear, except in the east, with a 
light wind from the north. 

July 13. — There being no wood here, we used last night the bois 
de vache, which is very plentiful. At our camp this morning, the 
barometer was at 25.235, the attached thermometer 60°. A few 
clouds were moving through a deep blue sky, with a light wind 
from the west. After a ride of twelve miles, in a northerly direction, 
over a plain covered with innumerable quantities of cacti, we 
reached a small creek in which there was water, and where several 
herds of buffalo were scattered about among the ravines, which 
always afford good pasturage. We seem now to be passing along 
the base of a plateau of the Black hills, in which the formation con- 
sists of marls, some of them white and laminated, the country to the 
left rising suddenly, and falling off gradually and uniformly to the 
right. In five or six miles of a northeasterly course, we struck a high 

26. Not likely. To reach Crow Creek in one day, by the route they are 
taking, they must travel to the latitude of Cheyenne, Wyo. — an impossible 
distance. JCF's own reading of latitude is of no help, putting him in the 
neighborhood of Thompson River. Until he strikes the North Platte, we shall 
have no clear indication of his location. He is traveling north by northeast, 
across Crow, Lodgepole, and Horse creeks, and through the Goshen Hole 
country of Goshen County, Wyo. 


ridge, broken into conical peaks, on whose summits large boulders 
were gathered in heaps. The magnetic direction of the ridge is 
northwest and southeast, the glittering white of its precipitous sides 
making it visible for many miles to the south. It is composed of a 
soft earthy limestone, and marls resembling that hereafter described, 
in the neighborhood of the Chimney Rock, on the North fork of 
the Platte, easily worked by the winds and rains, and sometimes 
moulded into very fantastic shapes. At the foot of the northern slope 
was the bed of a creek some forty feet wide, coming by frequent 
falls from the bench above. It was shut in by high perpendicular 
banks, in which were strata of white laminated marl. Its bed was 
perfectly dry, and the leading feature of the whole region is one of 
remarkable aridity, and perfect freedom from moisture. In about 
six miles we crossed the bed of another dry creek; and continuing 
our ride over a high level prairie, a little before sundown we came 
suddenly upon a beautiful creek, which revived us with a feeling of 
delighted surprise by the pleasant contrast of the deep verdure of its 
banks, with the parched desert we had passed. We had suffered 
much to-day, both men and horses, for want of water; having met 
with it but once in our uninterrupted march of forty miles, and an 
exclusive meat diet creates much thirst. 

"Las bestias tiene?i mucha hambre," said the young Spaniard, in- 
quiringly; "y la gente tambien," said I, "amigo, we'll camp here." 
A stream of good and clear water ran winding about through the 
little valley, and a herd of buffalo were quietly feeding a little dis- 
tance below. It was quite a hunter's paradise; and while some ran 
down toward the band to kill one for supper, others collected bois 
de vache for a fire, there being no wood ; and I amused myself with 
hunting for plants among the grass. 

It will be seen, by occasional remarks on the geological forma- 
tion, that the constituents of the soil in these regions are good, and 
every day served to strengthen the impression in my mind, con- 
firmed by subsequent observation, that the barren appearance of the 
country, is due almost entirely to the extreme dryness of the climate. 
Along our route, the country had seemed to increase constantly in 
elevation. According to the indication of the barometer, we were 
at our encampment, 5,440 feet above the sea. 

The evening was very clear, with a fresh breeze from the south, 
50° east. The barometer at sunset was 24.862, the thermometer at- 
tached showing 68°. I supposed this to be a fork of Lodge Pole 


creek, so far as I could determine from our uncertain means of in- 
formation. Astronomical observations gave for the camp a longitude 
of 105° 13' 38", and latitude 41° 08' 31". 

July 14. — The wind continued fresh from the same quarter in the 
morning, the day being clear vi^ith the exception of a few clouds in 
the horizon. At our camp at six o'clock, the height of the barometer 
was 24.830, the attached thermometer 61°. Our course this morning 
was directly north, by compass, the variation being 15° or 16° east- 
erly. A ride of four miles brought us to Lodge Pole creek, which we 
had seen at its mouth on the South fork; crossing on the way two 
dry streams, in eighteen miles from our encampment of the past 
night, we reached a high bleak ridge, composed entirely of the same 
earthy limestone and marl previously described. I had never seen 
anything which impressed so strongly on my mind a feeling of 
desolation. The valley through which ran the waters of Horse creek, 
lay in view to the north, but too far to have any influence on the im- 
mediate view. On the peak of the ridge where I was standing, some 
six or seven hundred feet above the river, the wind was high and 
bleak ; the barren and arid country seemed as if it had been swept by 
fires, and in every direction the same dull ash-colored hue, derived 
from the formation, met the eye. On the summits were some stunted 
pines, many of them dead, all wearing the same ashen hue of desola- 
tion.^^ We left the place with pleasure; and after we had descended 
several hundred feet, halted in one of the ravines, which, at the dis- 
tance of every mile or two, cut the flanks of the ridge with little 
rushing streams, wearing something of a mountain character. We 
had already begun to exchange the comparatively barren lands for 
those of a more fertile character. Though the sandstone formed the 
broken banks of the creek, yet they were covered with a thin grass; 
and the fifty or sixty feet which formed the bottom land of the little 
stream, was clothed with very luxuriant grass, among which I re- 
marked willow and cherry, {cerasus virginiana;) and a quantity of 
gooseberry and currant bushes occupied the greater part. 

The creek was three or four feet broad, and about six inches deep, 
with a swift current of clear water, and tolerably cool. We had 

27. Deleted from the manuscript draft at this point: "It gave a body to the 
foetid creations of the internal Regions, & the poet's words come strongly to 
my mind." 


struck it too low down to find the cold water, which we should have 
enjoyed nearer to its sources. At 2 P. M., the barometer was at 25.050, 
the attached thermometer 104°. A day of hot sunshine, with clouds, 
and a moderate breeze from the south. Continuing down the stream, 
in about four miles we reached its mouth, at one of the main 
branches of Horse creek. Looking back upon the ridge, whose direc- 
tion appeared to be a little to the north of east, we saw it seamed at 
frequent intervals with the dark lines of wooded streams, affluents 
of the river that flowed so far as we could see along its base. We 
crossed, in the space of twelve miles from our noon halt, three or 
four forks of Horse creek, and encamped at sunset on the most 

The fork on which we encamped appeared to have followed an 
easterly direction up to this place; but here it makes a very sudden 
bend to the north, passing between two ranges of precipitous hills, 
called, as I was informed, Goshen's hole. There is somewhere in or 
near this locality a place so called, but I am not certain that it was 
the place of our encampment. Looking back upon the spot, at the 
distance of a few miles to the northward, the hills appear to shut in 
the prairie, through which runs the creek, with a semi-circular 
sweep, which might very naturally be called a hole in the hills. The 
geological composition of the ridge is the same which constitutes the 
rock of the Court-house and Chimney on the North fork, which 
appeared to me a continuation of this ridge. The winds and rains 
work this formation into a variety of singular forms. The pass into 
Goshen's hole is about two miles wide, and the hill on the western 
side imitates, in an extraordinary manner, a massive fortified place, 
with a remarkable fulness of detail. The rock is marl and earthy 
limestone, white, without the least appearance of vegetation, and 
much resembles masonry at a little distance; and here it sweeps 
around a level area two or three hundred yards in diameter, and in 
the form of a half moon, terminating on either extremity in enor- 
mous bastions. Along the whole line of the parapets appear domes 
and slender minarets, forty or fifty feet high, giving it every appear- 
ance of an old fortified town. On the waters of White river, where 
this formation exists in great extent, it presents appearances which 
excite the admiration of the solitary voyageur, and form a frequent 
theme of their conversation when speaking of the wonders of the 
country. Sometimes it offers the perfectly illusive appearances of a 



large city, with numerous streets and magnificent buildings, among 
which the Canadians never fail to see their cabaret; and sometimes 
it takes the form of a solitary house, with many large chambers, into 
which they drive their horses at night, and sleep in these natural 
defences perfectly secure from any attack of prowling savages. Be- 
fore reaching our camp at Goshen's hole, in crossing the immense 
detritus at the foot of the Castle rock, we were involved amidst 
winding passages cut by the waters of the hill; and where, with a 
breadth scarcely large enough for the passage of a horse, the walls 
rise thirty and forty feet perpendicularly. This formation supplies 
the discoloration of the Platte. At sunset, the height of the mercurial 
column was 25.500, the attached thermometer 80°, and wind mod- 
erate from S. 38° E. Clouds covered the sky with the rise of the 
moon, but I succeeded in obtaining the usual astronomical observa- 
tions, which placed us in latitude 41° 40' 13'', and longitude 104° 
59' 23". 

]uly 15. — At 6 this morning, the barometer was at 25.515, the 
thermometer 72°, the day was fine, with some clouds looking dark 
on the south, with a fresh breeze from the same quarter. We found 
that in our journey across the country we had kept too much to the 
eastward. This morning accordingly we travelled by compass some 
15 or 20° to the west of north, and struck the Platte some thirteen 
miles below Fort Laramie. The day was extremely hot, and among 
the hills the wind seemed to have just issued from an oven. Our 
horses were much distressed, as we had travelled hard, and it was 
with some difficulty that they were all brought to the Platte; which 
we reached at 1 o'clock. In riding in towards the river, we found the 
trail of our carts, which appeared to have passed a day or two since. 

After having allowed our animals two hours for food and repose, 
we resumed our journey, and towards the close of the day came in 
sight of Laramie's fork. Issuing from the river hills, we came first 
in view of Fort Platte,"^ a post belonging to Messrs. Sybille, Adams & 
Co., situated immediately in the point of land at the junction of 
Laramie with the Platte. Like the post we had visited on the South 
fork, it was built of earth, and still unfinished, being enclosed with 
walls, or rather houses, on three of the sides, and open on the fourth 
to the river. A few hundred yards brought us in view of the post 

28. Fort Platte, at the confluence of the Laramie and the North Platte, was 
built in 1841 by Lancaster P. Lupton, sold in the spring of 1842 to Sibille & 
Adams, and abandoned in 1845. 



of the American Fur Company, called Fort John, or Laramie. 
This was a large post, having more the air of military construction 
than the fort at the mouth of the river. It is on the left bank, on 
a rising ground some twenty-five feet above the water; and its 
lofty walls, whitewashed and picketed, with the large bastions at the 
angles, gave it quite an imposing appearance in the uncertain light 
of evening. A cluster of lodges, which the language told us belonged 
to Sioux Indians, was pitched under the walls, and, with the fine 
back ground of the Black Hills and the prominent peak of Laramie 
mountain, strongly drawn in the clear light of the western sky, 
where the sun had already set, the whole formed at the moment 
a strikingly beautiful picture. From the company at St. Louis I had 
letters for Mr. Boudeau,^" the gentleman in charge of the post, by 
whom I was received with great hospitality and an efficient kindness, 
which was invaluable to me during my stay in the country. I found 
our people encamped on the bank, a short distance above the fort. 
All were well, and in the enjoyment of a bountiful supper, which 
cofiFee and bread made luxurious to us, we soon forgot the fatigues 
of the last ten days. 

July 16. — I found that, during my absence, the situation of affairs 
had undergone some change; and the usual quiet and somewhat 
monotonous regularity of the camp had given place to excitement 
and alarm. The circumstances which occasioned this change will be 
found narrated in the following extract from the journal of Mr. 

29. William Marshall Anderson provides an eye-witness account of the 
establishment of Fort Laramie's predecessor, Fort William. It was founded in 
1834 by William L. Sublette (of Sublette & Campbell) and was named both 
for Sublette and his guest, Anderson. The fort was known for a while as Fort 
Lucien after its sale in 1835 to [Lucien] Fontenelle, Fitzpatrick & Co., but 
the name Fort William hung on. After the American Fur Company took over 
the interests of the owners, it was rebuilt as an adobe structure and renamed 
Fort John. It probably was rebuilt on the same site, though this has not yet 
been determined archeologically. As JCF indicates, the name Laramie was also 
in use, and when the Army purchased the structure in 1849 it officially became 
Fort Laramie. There are many accounts of the post and its history, including 
JCF's description, p. 218. For William Marshall Anderson's account of its 
founding as Fort William, see anderson, 35 and passim. 

30. James Bordeaux (1814-78), fur trader and interpreter, had come to 
the Platte region from Fort Pierre where he had worked for the American 
Fur Company. He served more than once as bourgeois at Fort Laramie, and 
operated a number of trading posts in the area (trenholm; j. d. mc dermott 



Preuss, which commences with the day of our separation on the 
South fork of the Platte. 


Extract from the Journal of Mr. Preuss^ 

"July 6. — We crossed the plateau or highland between the two 
forks in about six hours. I let my horse go slow as he liked, to in- 
demnify us both for the previous hardship; and about noon we 
reached the North fork. There was no sign that our party had 
passed ; we rode, therefore, to some pine trees, unsaddled the horses, 
and stretched our limbs on the grass, awaiting the arrival of our 
company. After remaining here two hours, my companion [Ber- 
nier] became impatient, mounted his horse again, and rode off down 
the river to see if he could discover our people. I felt so marode 
[sic] yet, that it was a horrible idea to me to bestride that saddle 
again, so I lay still. I knew they could not come any other way, and 
then my companion, one of the best men of the company, would not 
abandon me. The sun went down; he did not come; uneasy I did 
not feel, but very hungry; I had no provisions, but I could make a 
fire; and as I espied two doves in a tree, I tried to kill one; but it 
needs a better marksman than myself to kill a little bird with a 
rifle. I made a large fire, however, lighted my pipe — this true friend 
of mine in every emergency — laid down, and let my thoughts wan- 
der to the far East. It was not many minutes after when I heard the 
tramp of a horse, and my faithful companion was by my side. He 
had found the party, who had been delayed by making their cache, 
about seven miles below. To the good supper which he brought with 
him I did ample justice. He had forgotten salt, and I tried the sol- 
dier's substitute in time of war, and used gunpowder; but it answered 
badly — bitter enough, but no flavor of kitchen salt,^^ I slept well; 

31. Preuss apparently produced two accounts, at least for this period. His 
principal journal covering all his travels with JCF, the original manuscript 
of which is in DLC and available in translation (preuss), is quite different 
for his journey to Fort Laramie. His editors conjecture that Preuss simply 
gave JCF the information to cover his trip, and that JCF wrote the "abstract" 
to harmonize with the rest of his report. This is quite probably true. 

32. In his "other" account, Preuss is in his usual dour and ungrateful mood: 
"After we had walked back to the cedar tree, he exhibited his wares: meat, 
tongue, bread, and the remainder of Fremont's Fourth of July keg. What a 
joy, what a delight! Yet a person is never satisfied. When I was eating I 
thought that those people could have sent along a little salt if they had had 
anything of a cultured taste" (preuss, 20). 


and was only disturbed by two owls, which were attracted by the 
fire, and took their place in the tree under which we slept. Their 
music seemed as disagreeable to my companion as to myself; he 
fired his rifle twice, and then they let us alone. 

"]uly 7. — At about 10 o'clock, the party arrived; and we contin- 
ued our journey through a country which offered but little to in- 
terest the traveller. The soil was much more sandy than in the valley 
below the confluence of the forks, and the face of the country no 
longer presented the refreshing green which had hitherto character- 
ized it. The rich grass was now found only in dispersed spots, on 
low grounds, and on the bottom land of the streams. A long 
drought, joined to extreme heat, had so parched up the upper 
prairies, that they were in many places bald, or covered only with 
a thin growth of yellow and poor grass. The nature of the soil ren- 
ders it extremely susceptible to the vicissitudes of the climate. Be- 
tween the forks, and from their junction to the Black Hills, the 
formation consists of marl and a soft earthy limestone, with granitic 
sandstone. Such a formation cannot give rise to a sterile soil; and on 
our return in September, when the country had been watered by 
frequent rains, the valley of the Platte looked like a garden; so rich 
was the verdure of the grasses, and so luxuriant the bloom of abun- 
dant flowers. The wild sage begins to make its appearance, and 
timber is so scarce that we generally made our fires of the bois de 
vache. With the exception of now and then an isolated tree or two, 
standing like a light-house on the river bank, there is none what- 
ever to be seen.^^ 

"]uly 8. — Our road to-day was a solitary one. No game made its 
appearance, not even a bufiFalo or a stray antelope; and nothing oc- 
curred to break the monotony until about 5 o'clock, when the cara- 
van made a sudden halt. There was a galloping in of scouts and 
horsemen from every side — a hurrying to and fro in noisy con- 
fusion; rifles were taken from their cover; bullet pouches examined: 
in short, there was the cry of "Indians," heard again. I had become 
so much accustomed to these alarms, that now they made but little 
impression on me; and, before I had time to become excited, the 
new comers were ascertained to be whites. It was a large party 
of traders and trappers, conducted by Mr. Bridger, a man well 

33. The entry for this day in his published diary reads only: "Nothing new 
under this sun" (preuss, 20). 


known in the history of the country.^* As the sun was low, and there 
was a fine grass patch not far ahead, they turned back and encamped 
for the night with us, Mr. Bridger was invited to supper; and, after 
the table cloth was removed, we listened with eager interest to an 
account of their adventures. What they had met, we would be likely 
to encounter; the chances which had befallen them, would prob- 
ably happen to us; and we looked upon their life as a picture of 
our own. He informed us that the condition of the country had be- 
come exceedingly dangerous. The Sioux, who had been badly dis- 
posed, had broken out into open hostility, and in the preceding 
autumn his party had encountered them in a severe engagement, 
in which a number of lives had been lost on both sides. United with 
the Cheyenne and Gros Ventre Indians, they were scouring the up- 
per country in war parties of great force, and were at this time in 
the neighborhood of the Red Buttes, a famous landmark, which was 
directly on our path. They had declared war upon every liv- 
ing thing which should be found westward of that point; though 
their main object was to attack a large camp of whites and Snake 
Indians, who had a rendezvous in the Sweet Water valley. Availing 
himself of his intimate knowledge of the country, he had reached 
Laramie by an unusual route through the Black Hills, and avoided 
coming into contact with any of the scattered parties. This gentleman 
offered his services to accompany us so far as the head of the Sweet 
Water; but the absence of our leader, which was deeply re- 
gretted by us all,^'' rendered it impossible for us to enter upon such 
an arrangement. In a camp consisting of men whose lives had been 
spent in this country, I expected to find every one prepared for oc- 
currences of this nature; but, to my great surprise, I found, on the 
contrary, that this news had thrown them all into the greatest con- 
sternation, and, on every side, I heard only one exclamation, "II ny 
aura pas de vie pour nous." All the night scattered groups were as- 
sembled around the fires, smoking their pipes, and listening with 
the greatest eagerness to exaggerated details of Indian hostilities; 

34. Jim Bridger (1804-81), the famous frontiersman and scout who had 
been connected with northwestern fur companies since 1822, would in the 
course of the next year establish a way-station in southwestern Wyoming. For 
a biography, see alter. 

35. These can hardly be Preuss' own words. His published diary says: 
"I feel better because of Fremont's absence" (preuss, 21). 


and in the morning I found the camp dispirited, and agitated by a 
variety of conflicting opinions. A majority of the people were strongly 
disposed to return ;^^ but Clement Lambert, with some five or six 
others, professed their determination to follow Mr. Fremont to the 
uttermost limit of his journey. The others yielded to their remon- 
strances; and, somewhat ashamed of their cowardice, concluded to 
advance at least so far as Laramie fork, eastward of which they were 
aware no danger was to be apprehended. Notwithstanding the con- 
fusion and excitement, we were very early on the road, as the days 
were extremely hot, and we were anxious to profit by the freshness 
of the morning. The soft marly formation, over which we were now 
journeying frequently offers to the traveller views of remarkable 
and picturesque beauty. To several of these localities where the 
winds and the rain have worked the bluffs into curious shapes, the 
voyageurs have given names according to some fancied resemblance. 
One of these, called the Courthouse, we passed about six miles from 
our encampment of last night, and toward noon came in sight of 
the celebrated Chimney RochJ' It looks, at this distance of about 
thirty miles, like what it is called, the long chimney of a steam-fac- 
tory establishment, or a shot-tower in Baltimore. Nothing occurred 
to interrupt the quiet of the day; and we encamped on the river, 
after a march of twenty-four miles. Buffalo had become very 
scarce, and but one cow had been killed, of which the meat had been 
cut into thin slices, and hung around the carts to dry. 

"]uly 10. — We continued along the same fine, plainly beaten road, 
which the smooth surface of the country afforded us for a distance 
of six hundred and thirty miles, from the frontiers of Missouri to 

36. And so was Preuss, who says in his pubhshed diary: "It would be 
ridiculous to risk the lives of twenty-five people just to determine a few 
longitudes and latitudes and to find out the elevation of a mountain range" 
(pREuss, 21-22). 

37. Courthouse Rock and Chimney Rock, both famous landmarks on the 
trail along the south bank of the North Platte, in Morrill County, Nebr., bear 
some relevance to the JCF expedition. A study of trail landmarks by Dale L. 
Morgan indicates that the name of Courthouse Rock was unknown in the 
literature before JCF's first Report was issued, and the general and early 
acceptance of that name is one more indication of the impact his Report had 
on an America looking westward. As for Chimney Rock, Preuss made a 
sketch (p. 216) which is the second oldest on record (mattes, 385), and 
said it looked like the chimney of a factory or "a shot-tower in Baltimore." 
Preuss appears to have been the first to use the name Chimney Rock. 






the Laramie fork. In the course of the day we met some whites, who 
were following along in the train of Mr. Bridger; and, after a day's 
journey of twenty-four miles, encamped about sunset at the Chim- 
ney Rock, of which the annexed drawing [p. 216] will render any 
description unnecessary. It consists of marl and earthy limestone, 
and the weather is rapidly diminishing its height, which is now 
not more than two hundred feet above the river. Travellers who 
visited it some years since placed its height at upwards of five hun- 
dred feet. 

"July 11.— The valley of the North fork is of a variable breadth, 
from one to four and sometimes six miles. Fifteen miles from the 
Chimney Rock we reached one of those places where the river 
strikes the bluffs and forces the road to make a considerable circuit 
over the uplands. This presented an escarpment on the river of about 
nine hundred yards in length, and is familiarly known as Scott's 
blufls.^^ We had made a journey of thirty miles before we again 
struck the river, at a place where some scanty grass afforded an in- 
sufficient pasturage to our animals. About twenty miles from the 
Chimney Rock we had found a very beautiful spring of excellent 
and cold water; but it was in such a deep ravine, and so small, that 
the animals could not profit by it, and we therefore halted only 
a few minutes, and found a resting place ten miles further on. The 
plain between Scott's bluffs and Chimney Rock was almost entirely 
covered with drift wood, consisting principally of cedar, which, we 
were informed, had been supplied from the Black Hills, in a flood 
five or six years since. 

"]uly 12. — Nine miles from our encampment of yesterday we 
crossed Horse creek, a shallow stream of clear water, about seventy 
yards wide, falling into the Platte on the right bank. It was lightly 
timbered, and great quantities of drift wood were piled up on the 
banks, appearing to be supplied by the creek from above. After a 
journey of twenty-six miles, we encamped on a rich bottom, which 
afforded fine grass to our animals. Buffalo have entirely disappeared, 
and we live now upon the dried meat which is exceedingly poor 
food. The marl and earthy limestone, which constituted the forma- 
tion for several days past, had changed during the day into a com- 

38. Scotts Bluf?, south of the river near Scottsbluff, Nebr., is a national 
monument maintained by the National Park Service. Portions of the old 
wagon trail are still visible near by. 


pact white or grayish white hmestone, sometimes containing horn- 
stone; and at the place of our encampment this evening, some strata 
in the river hills cropped out to the height of thirty or forty feet, 
consisting of a fine-grained granitic sandstone; one of the strata 
closely resembling gneiss. 

"July 13. — To-day, about four o'clock, we reached Fort Laramie, 
where we were cordially received; we pitched our camp a little 
above the fort, on the bank of Laramie river, in which the pure 
and clear water of the mountain stream looked refreshingly cool, 
and made a pleasant contrast to the muddy, yellow waters of the 

I walked up to visit our friends at the fort, which is a quadrangu- 
lar structure, built of clay, after the fashion of the Mexicans, who 
are generally employed in building them. The walls are about fif- 
teen feet high, surmounted with a wooden palisade, and form a por- 
tion of ranges of houses, which entirely surround a yard of about 
one hundred and thirty feet square. Every apartment has its door 
and window, all, of course, opening on the inside. There are two 
entrances opposite each other and midway the wall, one of which 
is a large and public entrance, the other smaller and more private: 
a sort of postern gate. Over the great entrance is a square tower, with 
loopholes; and, like the rest of the work, built of earth. At two of 
the angles, and diagonally opposite each other, are large square 
bastions, so arranged as to sweep the four faces of the walls. 

This post belongs to the American Fur Company, and, at the time 
of our visit, was in charge of Mr. Boudeau. Two of the company's 
clerks, Messrs. Galpin and Kellogg,^^ were with him, and he had 
in the fort about sixteen men. As usual, these had found wives 

39. The end of the so-called abstract from the Preuss journal. His published 
version merely reads, "Nothing new, except that we arrived at the Fort to- 
day" (preuss, 23). 

40. Charles E. Galpin (d. ca. 1870), was for many years connected with the 
fur trade on the upper Missouri, and was in charge at Fort Pierre when it 
was sold to the U.S. government. Fort Pierre was a depot for Fort Laramie 
at this time (see South Dahota Historical Collections, 1:364-65). The other 
clerk apparently was Philander Kellogg (1810-ca. 1848). When he went to 
the North Platte region is uncertain, but his brothers Florentine and Benja- 
min Kellogg encountered him unexpectedly on the trail during a trip to 
California in 1846 (korns, 153). A letter from Fort Pierre, 19 Aug. 1845, 
from A. R. Bonis to P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company, sheds some light on 
Kellogg's activities and also illustrates how Fort Pierre served as a shipping 


among the Indian squaws; and, with the usual accompaniment of 
children, the place had quite a populous appearance. It is hardly 
necessary to say, that the object of the establishment is trade with the 
neighboring tribes, who, in the course of the year, generally make 
two or three visits to the fort. In addition to this, traders, with a 
small outfit, are constantly kept amongst them. The articles of trade 
consist on the one side almost entirely of buffalo robes, and on the 
other, of blankets, calicoes, guns, powder, and lead, with such cheap 
ornaments as glass beads, looking-glasses, rings, vermilion for 
painting, tobacco, and principally, and in spite of the prohibition, 
of spirits, brought into the country in the form of alcohol, and di- 
luted with water before sold. While mentioning this fact, it is but 
justice to the American Fur Company to state, that, throughout the 
country, I have always found them strenuously opposed to the intro- 
duction of spirituous liquors. But in the present state of things, when 
the country is supplied with alcohol, when a keg of it will purchase 
from an Indian every thing he possesses — his furs, his lodge, his 
horses, and even his wife and children — and when any vagabond 
who has money enough to purchase a mule can go into a village 
and trade against them successfully — without withdrawing entirely 
from the trade, it is impossible for them to discontinue its use. In 
their opposition to this practice, the company is sustained, not only 
by their obligation to the laws of the country and the welfare of the 
Indians, but clearly, also, on grounds of policy; for, with heavy and 
expensive outfits, they contend at manifestly great disadvantage 
against the numerous independent and unlicensed traders, who enter 
the country from various avenues, from the United States and from 
Mexico, having no other stock in trade than some kegs of liquor, 
which they sell at the modest price of thirty-six dollars per gallon. 
The difference between the regular trader and the coureur des bois, 
as the French call the itinerant or peddling traders, with respect to 
the sale of spirits, is here as it always has been, fixed and permanent, 
and growing out of the nature of their trade. The regular trader 
looks ahead, and has an interest in the preservation of the Indians, 

point for Fort Laramie. "Messrs. Lurty, Harper & Farwell arrived yesterday 
from Fort John | Laramie]. They left Mr. Kellogg on White River with 13 
wagons and carts laden with 387 Pack Robes. He is progressing hut slowly. 
... I expect him here by 1st September, and soon as possible alter his arrival, 
I will start two mackinaw boats . . . with 550 packs for St. Louis" (deland, 








and in the regular pursuit of their business, and the preservation of 
their arms, horses, and every thing necessary to their future and per- 
manent success in hunting: the coureur des bois has no permanent 
interest, and gets what he can, and for what he can, from every In- 
dian he meets, even at the risk of disabHng him from doing any 
thing more at hunting. 

The fort had a very cool and clean appearance. The great en- 
trance, in which I found the gentlemen assembled, and which was 
floored, and about fifteen feet long, made a pleasant, shaded seat, 
through which the breeze swept constantly; for this country is 
famous for high winds. In the course of conversation, I learned 
the following particulars, which will explain the condition of the 
country: For several years the Cheyennes and Sioux had gradually 
become more and more hostile to the whites, and in the latter part 
of August, 1841, had had a rather severe engagement with a party 
of sixty men, under the command of Mr. Frapp,'*^ of St. Louis. The 
Indians lost eight or ten warriors, and the whites had their leader 
and four men killed. This fight took place on the waters of Snake 
river; and it was this party, on their return under Mr. Bridger, 
which had spread so much alarm among my people. In the course 
of the spring, two other small parties had been cut off by the Sioux; 
one on their return from the Crow nation, and the other among the 
Black Hills. The emigrants to Oregon and Mr. Bridger's party met 
here, a few days before our arrival. Division and misunderstandings 
had grown up among them; they were already somewhat disheart- 
ened by the fatigue of their long and wearisome journey, and the 
feet of their cattle had become so much worn as to be scarcely able 
to travel. In this situation, they were not likely to find encourage- 
ment in the hostile attitude of the Indians, and the new and unex- 
pected difficulties which sprang up before them. They were told that 

41. Henry Fraeb, who had been one of the founders and proprietors of the 
Rocky Mountain Fur Company. After that company was dissolved in 1834, 
Fraeb engaged in trade both independently and in partnership with various 
men. In 1840-41 his partner was Jim Bridger. JCF's report of the number of 
men killed when Fraeb skirmished with the Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Sioux 
is only one of many differing reports (l. hafen [2|). In Dale L. Morgan's 
sketch of Fraeb (anderson, 312-15), he corrects JCF by pointing out that the 
Fraeb skirmish probably occurred early in August, not the "latter part." The 
scene was the stream now called the Little Snake, and JCF has considerably 
exaggerated the effect of the attack on emigration and the morale of emigrants 
who learned of the affair. 


the country was entirely swept of grass, and that few or no buffalo 
were to be found on their line of route; and with their weakened 
animals, it would be impossible for them to transport their heavy 
wagons over the mountain. Under these circumstances, they dis- 
posed of their wagons and cattle at the forts; selling them at the 
prices they had paid in the States, and taking in exchange coffee and 
sugar at one dollar a pound, and miserable worn out horses, which 
died before they reached the mountains. Mr. Boudeau informed me 
that he had purchased thirty, and the lower fort eighty head of fine 
cattle, some of them of the Durham breed. Mr. Fitzpatrick,'*' whose 
name and high reputation are familiar to all who interest themselves 
in the history of this country, had reached Laramie in company with 
Bridger; and the emigrants were fortunate enough to obtain his 
services to guide them as far as the British post of Fort Hall, about 
two hundred and fifty miles beyond the South Pass of the moun- 
tains. They had started for this post on the 4th of July, and im- 
mediately after their departure, a war party of three hundred and 
fifty braves sat out upon their trail. As their principal chief or par- 
tisan had lost some relations in the recent fight, and had sworn to 
kill the first whites on his path, it was supposed that their intention 
was to attack the party, should a favorable opportunity offer; or, if 
they were foiled in their principal object by the vigilance of Mr. 
Fitzpatrick, content themselves with stealing horses and cutting off 
stragglers. These had been gone but a few days previous to our 

The effect of the engagement with Mr. Frapp had been greatly to 
irritate the hostile spirit of the savages; and immediately subse- 
quent to that event, the Gros Ventre Indians had united with the 
Oglallahs and Cheyennes, and taken the field in great force, so far 
as I could ascertain, to the amount of eight hundred lodges. Their 
object was to make an attack on a camp of Snake and Crow Indians, 

42. Thomas Fitzpatrick (1799-1854), called "Broken Hand" by the Indians, 
was an Irish immigrant who became one of the greatest of the "mountain 
men." With Bridger, Fraeb, and others he had organized the Rocky Moun- 
tain Fur Company in 1830; but when the beaver were depleted he quit trap- 
ping to serve as a guide to early emigrant trains or expeditions. He guided the 
White-Hastings party to Fort Hall from Fort Laramie in 1842. In 1843-45, 
he would serve as a guide for ICF, and would in 1846 become an Indian 
agent for tribes on the upper Platte and the Arkansas (DNA-75,, LS, 38:357). 
See the biography by hafen & ghent. 


and a body of about one hundred whites, who had made a rendez- 
vous somewhere in the Green river valley, or on the Sweet Water. 
After spending some time in buffalo hunting in the neighborhood 
of the Medicine Bow mountain, they were to cross over to the Green 
river waters, and return to Laramie by way of the South Pass and 
the Sweet Water valley. According to the calculation of the Indians, 
Mr. Boudeau informed me they were somewhere near the head 
of the Sweet Water. I subsequently learned that the party led by Mr. 
Fitzpatrick were overtaken by their pursuers, near Rock Inde- 
pendence, in the valley of the Sweet Water; but his skill and reso- 
lution saved them from surprise, and small as his force was, they did 
not venture to attack him openly. Here they lost one of their party 
by an accident, and, continuing up the valley, they came suddenly 
upon the large village. From these they met with a doubtful recep- 
tion. Long residence and familiar acquaintance had given to Mr. 
Fitzpatrick great personal influence among them, and a portion of 
them were disposed to let him pass quietly; but by far the greater 
number were inclined to hostile measures; and the chiefs spent the 
whole of one night, during which they kept the little party in the 
midst of them, in council, debating the question of attacking them 
the next day; but the influence of "the Broken Hand," as they 
called Mr. Fitzpatrick (one of his hands having been shattered by 
the bursting of a gun), at length prevailed, and obtained for them 
an unmolested passage; but they sternly assured him that this path 
was no longer open, and that any party of whites which should 
hereafter be found upon it, would meet with certain destruction. 
From all that I have been able to learn, I have no doubt that the 
emigrants owe their lives to Mr. Fitzpatrick. 

Thus it would appear that the country was swarming with scat- 
tered war parties; and when I heard during the day, the various con- 
tradictory and exaggerated rumors which were incessantly repeated 
to them, I was not surprised that so much alarm prevailed among 
my men. Carson, one of the best and most experienced mountain- 
eers, fully supported the opinion given by Bridger of the dangerous 
state of the country, and openly expressed his conviction that we 
could not escape without some sharp encounters with the Indians 


43. The draft manuscript has Carson saying that "all of us should never 
see that fort again." 


In addition to this, he made his will, and among the circumstances 
which were constantly occurring to increase their alarm, this was 
the most unfortunate; and I found that a number of my party had 
become so much intimidated, that they had requested to be dis- 
charged at. this place. I dined to-day at Fort Platte, which has been 
mentioned as situated at the junction of Laramie river with the 
Nebraska. Here I heard a confirmation of the statements given 
above. The party of warriors, which had started a few days since on 
the trail of the emigrants, was expected back in fourteen days, to join 
the village with which their families and the old men had remained. 
The arrival of the latter was hourly expected, and some Indians have 
just come in who had left them on the Laramie fork, about twenty 
miles above. Mr. Bissonette, one of the traders belonging to Fort 
Platte, urged the propriety of taking with me an interpreter and two 
or three old men of the village, in which case, he thought there 
would be little or no hazard in encountering any of the war parties. 
The principal danger was in being attacked before they should know 
who we were. 

They had a confused idea of the numbers and power of our peo- 
ple, and dreaded to bring upon themselves the military force of the 
United States. This gentleman, who spoke the language fluently, 
offered his services to accompany me so far as the Red Buttes. He 
was desirous to join the large party on its return, for purposes of 
trade, and it would suit his views as well as my own, to go with us 
to the Buttes; beyond which point it would be impossible to prevail 
on a Sioux to venture, on account of their fear of the Crows. From 
Fort Laramie to the Red Buttes, by the ordinary road, is one hundred 
and thirty-five miles; and, though only on the threshold of danger, 
it seemed better to secure the services of an interpreter [Joseph Bis- 
sonette] for the partial distance, than to have none at all. 

So far as frequent interruption from the Indians would allow, we 
occupied ourselves in making some astronomical calculations, and 
bringing up the general map to this stage of our journey, but the 
tent was generally occupied by a succession of our ceremonious 
visitors. Some came for presents, and others for information of our 
object in coming to the country; now and then one would dart up to 
the tent on horseback, jerk ofT his trappings, and stand silently at the 
door, holding his horse by the halter, signifying his desire to trade. 
Occasionally a savage would stalk in, with an invitation to a feast of 
honor, a dog feast, and deliberately sit down and wait quietly until 


I was ready to accompany him/^ I went to one; the women and 
children were sitting outside the lodge, and we took our seats on 
buffalo robes spread around. The dog was in a large pot over the 
fire in the middle of the lodge, and immediately on our arrival was 
dished up in large wooden bowls, one of which was handed to each. 
The flesh appeared very glutinous, with something of the flavor and 
appearance of mutton. Feeling something move behind me, I looked 
round and found that I had taken my seat among a litter of fat 
young puppies. Had I been nice in such matters, the prejudices of 
civilization might have interfered with my tranquility; but fortu- 
nately, I am not of delicate nerves, and continued quietly to empty 
my platter. 

The weather was cloudy at evening, with a moderate south wind, 
and the thermometer at 6 o'clock 85°. I was disappointed in my 
hope of obtaining an observation of an occultation, which took place 
about midnight. The moon brought with her heavy banks of clouds, 
through which she scarcely made her appearance during the night. 

The morning of the 18th was cloudy and calm, the thermometer 
at 6 o'clock at 64°. About 9, with a moderate wind from the west, a 
storm of rain came on, accompanied by sharp thunder and lightning, 
which lasted about an hour. During the day the expected village 
arrived, consisting principally of old men, women, and children. 
They had a considerable number of horses, and large troops of dogs. 
Their lodges were pitched near the fort, and our camp was con- 
stantly crowded with Indians of all sizes, from morning until night; 
at which time some of the soldiers generally came to drive them all 
off to the village. My tent was the only place which they respected. 
Here only came the chiefs and men of distinction, and generally one 
of them remained to drive away the women and children. The nu- 
merous strange instruments applied to still stranger uses excited awe 
and admiration among them, and those which I used in talking with 
the sun and stars they looked upon with especial reverence, as mys- 
terious things of "great medicine." Of the three barometers which I 
had brought with me thus far successfully, I found that two were out 
of order, and spent the greater part of the 19th in repairing them, an 
operation of no small difficulty in the midst of the incessant inter- 

44. "These Indians are irksome people, pesky as children. They come into 
the tent, sit down, and smoke their pipes as if they were at home" (preuss, 


ruptions to which I was subjected. We had the misfortune to break 
here a large thermometer, graduated to show fifths of a degree, 
which I used to ascertain the temperature of boiUng water, and with 
which I had promised myself some interesting experiments in the 
mountains. We had but one remaining, on which the graduation 
extended sufficiently high, and this was too small for exact obser- 
vations. During our stay here the men had been engaged in making 
numerous repairs, arranging pack saddles, and otherwise preparing 
for the chances of a rough road and mountain travel. All things of 
this nature being ready, I gathered them around me in the evening, 
and told them that "I had determined to proceed the next day. They 
were all well armed. I had engaged the services of Mr. Bissonette as 
interpreter, and had taken, in the circumstances, every possible 
means to insure our safety. In the rumors we had heard I believed 
there was much exaggeration, and then they were men accustomed 
to this kind of life and to the country; and that these were the dan- 
gers of every day occurrence, and to be expected in the ordinary 
course of their service. They had heard of the unsettled condition of 
the country before leaving St. Louis, and therefore could not make it 
a reason for breaking their engagements. Still I was unwilling to 
take with me on a service of some certain danger, men on whom I 
could not rely; and as I had understood that there were among them 
some who were disposed to cowardice, and anxious to return, 
they had but to come forward at once and state their desire, and they 
would be discharged with the amount due to them for the time they 
had served." To their honor be it said, there was but one among 
them who had the face to come forward and avail himself of the 
permission."*^ I asked him some few questions in order to expose 
him to the ridicule of the men, and let him go. The day after our 
departure he engaged himself to one of the forts, and set off with a 
party for the Upper Missouri. I did not think that the situation of 
the country justified me in taking our young companions, Messrs. 
Brant and Benton, along with us. In case of misfortune, it would 

45. Deleted from the manuscript draft: "The same [Registe] Larent whom 
I have previously had occasion to mention. He was a well-looking, robust man 
of thirty, & on this occasion pleaded sickness as a reason for not exposing 
himself to the hardships of the Mountains. His only sickness consisted in 
overeating himself & I had frequently been obliged to give him medicine, to 
assist him in getting rid of the enormous quantity of animal food he daily 


have been thought, at the least, an act of great imprudence; and 
therefore, though reluctantly, I determined to leave them. Randolph 
had been the life of the camp, and the "petit garcon" was much re- 
gretted by the men, to whom his buoyant spirits had afforded great 
amusement. They all, however, agreed in the propriety of leaving 
him at the fort, because, as they said, he might cost the lives of some 
of the men in a fight with the Indians. 

July 21. — A portion of our baggage, with our field notes and obser- 
vations, and several instruments, were left at the fort. One of the 
gentlemen, Mr. Galpin, took charge of a barometer, which he en- 
gaged to observe during my absence, and I entrusted to Randolph, 
by way of occupation, the regular winding up of two of my chro- 
nometers, which were among the instruments left. Our observations 
showed that the chronometer which I retained for the continuation 
of our voyage had preserved its rate in a most satisfactory manner. 
As deduced from it, the longitude of Fort Laramie is Ih. 01' 21", and 
from lunar distance 7/!. 01' 29", giving for the adopted longitude 
105° 21' 10". Comparing the barometrical observations made during 
our stay here with those of Dr. G. Engelman at St. Louis, we find 
for the elevation of the fort above the Gulf of Mexico 4,470 feet. The 
winter climate here is remarkably mild for the latitude; but rainy 
weather is frequent, and the place is celebrated for winds, of which 
the prevailing one is west. An east wind in summer and a south 
wind in winter is said to be always accompanied with rain. 

We were ready to depart; the tents were struck, the mules geared 
up, and our horses saddled, and we walked up to the fort to take the 
stirrup cup with our friends in an excellent home-brewed prepara- 
tion.'*' While thus pleasantly engaged, seated in one of the little cool 

46. "We left the large chronometer in Laramie; Fremont succeeded in mak- 
ing it run again, and he was jubilant when he heard again the ticking and 
tick-tocking. In comparing we found, however, that every twenty-four hours 
it went wrong by about one hour. Oh, you American blockheads!" (preuss, 

47. Oliver P. Wiggins, who was probably born on Grand Island in the 
Niagara River in 1823, claimed that he and a few friends joined the expedi- 
tion at Fort Laramie and accompanied it westward "because they could be 
depended on to fight in Indian dangers" ("Early Far West Notes," F. W. 
Cragin, Western History Collection, CoU). In carson, 20-22, Harvey L. 
Carter not only points out the preposterous nature of this claim, which had 
been accepted by such biographers as Edwin L. Sabin and M. Morgan Ester- 
green, but also questions his whole association with Kit Carson at Taos. In 


chambers, at the door of which a man had been stationed to prevent 
all intrusion from the Indians, a number of chiefs, several of them 
powerful fine-looking men, forced their way into the room in spite 
of all opposition. Handing me the following letter, they took their 
seats in silence: 

"Fort Platte, ]uly 1, 1842. 

"Mr. Fremont: Les chefs s'etant assembles presentement me disent 
de vous avertir de ne point vous mettre en route, avant que le parti 
de jeunes gens qui est en dehors, soient de retour. Deplus ils me 
disent qu'ils sont tres certain qu'ils feront feu, a la premiere rencontre. 
Ils doivent etre de retour dans sept a huit jours; excusez si je vous 
fais cos observations, mais il me semble qu'il est mon devoir de vous 
avertir du danger. Meme de plus, les chefs sont les porteurs de ce 
billet, qui vous defendent de partir avant le retour des guerriers. 

"Je suis votre ob't servt'r, 

"Joseph Bissonette, 
"Par L. B. Chartrain.'"' 

Les noms de quelques chefs: 

Le Chapeau de Loutre, le Casseur de Fleches, la Nuit Noir, La 
Queue de Boeuf . 


"Fort Platte, ]uly 1, 1842. 

"Mr. Fremont: The chiefs having assembled in council, have just 
told me to warn you not to set out before the party of young men 
which is now out shall have returned. Furthermore, they tell me 
that they are very sure they will fire upon you as soon as they meet 
you. They are expected back in seven or eight days; excuse me for 
making these observations, but it seems my duty to warn you of 

fact, Carter is reasonably certain that Wiggins, who has been exposed as a 
complete charlatan, did not come west before 1850, and then only as far as 
Scottsbluff, Nebr. 

48. L. B. Chartrain probably left Independence with a Sibille & Adams 
party in the fall of 1841. The fragmentary diaries of Adams (MoSHi) first 
mention him in December of that year, saying he has gone to trade on 
Cheyenne waters. He is last mentioned in the diaries in 1845. 


danger. Moreover, the chiefs who prohibit your setting out before 
the return of the warriors are the bearers of this note. 
"I am your obedient servant, 

"Joseph Bissonette, 
"By L. B. Chartrain." 

"Names of some of the chiefs: 

"The Otter Hat, the Breaker of Arrows, the Black Night, the 
Bull's Tail." 

After reading this, I mentioned its purport to my companions, and 
seeing that all were fully possessed of its contents, one of the Indians 
rose up, and, having first shaken hands with me, spoke as follows: 

"You have come among us at a bad time. Some of our people have 
been killed, and our young men, who are gone to the mountains, 
are eager to avenge the blood of their relations, which has been shed 
by the whites. Our young men are bad, and if they meet you they 
will believe that you are carrying goods and ammunition to their 
enemies, and will fire upon you. You have told us that this will 
make war. We know that our great father has many soldiers and 
big guns, and we are anxious to have our lives. We love the whites, 
and are desirous of peace. Thinking of all these things, we have 
determined to keep you here until our warriors return. We are glad 
to see you among us. Our father is rich, and we expected that you 
would have brought presents to us — horses, and guns, and blankets. 
But we are glad to see you. We look upon your coming as the light 
which goes before the sun ; for you will tell our great father that you 
have seen us, and that we are naked and poor, and have nothing to 
eat, and he will send us all these things." He was followed by others 
to the same effect. 

The observations of the savage appeared reasonable; but I was 
aware that they had in view only the present object of detaining me, 
and were unwilling I should go further into the country. In reply, I 
asked them, through the interpretation of Mr. Boudeau, to select two 
or three of their number to accompany us until we should meet their 
people — they should spread their robes in my tent and eat at my 
table, and on our return I would give them presents in reward of 
their services. They declined, saying that there were no young men 
left in the village, and that they were too old to travel so many days 
on horseback, and preferred now to smoke their pipes in the lodge, 


and let the warriors go on the war-path. Besides, they had no power 
over the young men, and were afraid to interfere with them. In my 
turn I addressed them: "You say that you love the whites; why have 
you killed so many already this spring? You say that you love the 
whites, and are full of many expressions of friendship to us, but you 
are not willing to undergo the fatigue of a few days' ride to save our 
lives. We do not believe what you have said, and will not listen to 
you. Whatever a chief among us tells his soldiers to do, is done. We 
are the soldiers of the great chief, your father. He has told us to 
come here and see this country, and all the Indians, his children. Why 
should we not go ? Before we came, we heard that you had killed his 
people, and ceased to be his children; but we came among you peace- 
ably, holding out our hands. Now we find that the stories we heard 
are not lies, and that you are no longer his friends and children. We 
have thrown away our bodies, and will not turn back. When you 
told us that your young men would kill us, you did not know that 
our hearts were strong, and you did not see the rifles which my 
young men carry in their hands. We are few, and you are many, and 
may kill us all; but there will be much crying in your villages, for 
many of your young men will stay behind, and forget to return with 
your warriors from the mountains. Do you think that our great chief 
will let his soldiers die, and forget to cover their graves ? Before the 
snows melt again, his warriors will sweep away your villages as the 
fire does the prairie in the autumn. See! I have pulled down my 
white houses, and my people are ready: when the sun is ten paces 
higher, we shall be on the march. If you have anything to tell us, you 
will say it soon." I broke up the conference, as I could do nothing 
with these people, and being resolved to proceed, nothing was to be 
gained by delay. Accompanied by our hospitable friends, we re- 
turned to the camp. We had mounted our horses, and our parting 
salutations had been exchanged, when one of the chiefs, the Bull's 
Tail, arrived to tell me that they had determined to send a young 
man with us; and if I would point out the place of our evening 
camp, he should join us there. "The young man is poor," said he; 
"he has no horse, and expects you to give him one." I described to 
him the place where I intended to encamp, and shaking hands, in 
a few minutes we were among the hills, and this last habitation of 
whites shut out from our view. 

The road led over an interesting plateau between the north fork 
of the Platte on the right and Laramie river on the left. At the dis- 


tance of ten miles from the fort we entered the sandy bed of a creek, 
a kind of defile, shaded by precipitous rocks, down which we wound 
our way for several hundred yards to a place where, on the left bank, 
a very large spring gushes with considerable noise and force out of 
the limestone rock. It is called "the Warm Spring," and furnishes to 
the hitherto dry bed of the creek a considerable rivulet. On the op- 
posite side, a little below the spring, is a lofty limestone escarpment, 
partially shaded by a grove of large trees, whose green foliage, in 
contrast with the whiteness of the rock, renders this a picturesque 
locality. The rock is fossiliferous, and, so far as I was able to deter- 
mine the character of the fossils, belongs to the carboniferous lime- 
stone of the Missouri river, and is probably the western limit of that 
formation. Beyond this point I met with no fossils of any description. 
I was desirous to visit the Platte near the point where it leaves the 
Black Hills, and therefore followed this stream, for two or three 
miles, to the mouth; where I encamped on a spot which afforded 
good grass and prele (equisetum) for our animals. Our tents having 
been found too thin to protect ourselves and the instruments from 
the rains, which in this elevated country are attended with cold and 
unpleasant weather, I had procured from the Indians at Laramie a 
tolerably large lodge, about eighteen feet in diameter and twenty feet 
in height. Such a lodge, when properly pitched, is, from its conical 
form, almost perfectly secure against the violent winds which are 
frequent in this region, and with a fire in the centre is a dry and 
warm shelter in bad weather. By raising the lower part so as to 
permit the breeze to pass freely, it is converted into a pleasant sum- 
mer residence, with the extraordinary advantage of being entirely 
free from mosquitoes, one of which I have never seen in an Indian 
lodge. While we were engaged very unskilfully in erecting this, the 
interpreter, Mr. Bissonette, arrived, accompanied by the Indian and 
his wife. She laughed at our awkwardness, and offered her assistance, 
of which we were frequently afterward obliged to avail ourselves, 
before the men acquired suflBcient expertness to pitch it without 
difficulty. From this place we had a fine view of the gorge where the 
Platte issues from the Black Hills, changing its character abruptly 
from a mountain stream into a river of the plains.^** Immediately 

49. The trail the party has heen following has not run directly along the 
banks of the North Platte, so JCF has come down to the river to inspect the 
rough country in the vicinity of Guernsey, Wyo. The original course and 


around us the valley of the stream was tolerably open, and at the dis- 
tance of a few miles, where the river had cut its way through the 
hills, was the narrow cleft, on one side of which a lofty precipice of 
bright red rock rose vertically above the low hills which lay between 

]uly 22. — In the morning, while breakfast was being prepared, I 
visited this place with my favorite man, Basil Lajeunesse. Entering 
so far as there was footing for the mules, we dismounted, and, tying 
our animals, continued our way on foot. Like the whole country, the 
scenery of the river had undergone an entire change, and was in this 
place the most beautiful I have ever seen. The breadth of the stream, 
generally near that of its valley, was from two to three hundred feet, 
with a swift current, occasionally broken by rapids, and the water 
perfectly clear. On either side rose the red precipices, vertical, and 
sometimes overhanging, two and four hundred feet in height, 
crowned with green summits, on which were scattered a few pines. 
At the foot of the rocks was the usual detritus, formed of masses 
fallen from above. Among the pines that grew here and on the oc- 
casional banks, were the cherry, {cerasus virginiana) currants, and 
grains de boeuf {shepherdia argentea.) Viewed in the sunshine of a 
pleasant morning, the scenery was of a most striking and romantic 
beauty, which arose from the picturesque disposition of the objects 
and the vivid contrast of colors. I thought with much pleasure of our 
approaching descent in the canoe through such interesting places; 
and, in the expectation of being able at that time to give to them a 
full examination, did not now dwell so much as might have been 
desirable upon the geological formations along the line of the river, 
where they are developed with great clearness. The upper portion of 
the red strata consists of very compact clay, in which are occasionally 
seen imbedded large pebbles. Below was a stratum of compact red 
sandstone, changing a little above the river into a very hard siliceous 
limestone. There is a small but handsome open prairie immediately 
below this place, on the left bank of the river, which would be a 

nature of the river, west of Guernsey, are now obscured by the Guernsey 
Reservoir and a smaller man-made body of water, Newell Bay. 

Dale L. Morgan, in his correspondence with us, believes it clear from JCF's 
text that he took what later became known as the Hill Road from Fort Lara- 
mie to Warm Spring (thus reaching Warm Spring Canyon above the spring), 
not the River Road traveled by the Mormons in 1847, which kept to the banks 
of the North Platte as far as the mouth of Warm Spring Canyon. This Hill 
Road followed the divide between the Laramie and North Platte rivers. 


good locality for a military post. There are some open groves of Cot- 
tonwood on the Platte. The small stream which comes in at this 
place is well timbered with pine, and good building rock is abun- 

If it is in contemplation to keep open the communications with 
Oregon Territory, a show of military force in this country is abso- 
lutely necessary; and a combination of advantages renders the neigh- 
borhood of Fort Laramie the most suitable place, on the line of the 
Platte, for the establishment of a military post. It is connected with 
the mouth of the Platte and the Upper Missouri by excellent roads, 
which are in frequent use, and would not in any way interfere with 
the range of the buffalo, on which the neighboring Indians mainly 
depend for support. It would render any posts on the Lower Platte 
unnecessary; the ordinary communication between it and the Mis- 
souri being sufficient to control the intermediate Indians. It would 
operate effectually to prevent any such coalitions as are now formed 
among the Gros Ventres, Sioux, Cheyennes, and other Indians, and 
would keep the Oregon road through the valley of the Sweet Water 
and the South Pass of the mountains constantly open. A glance at 
the map'^" which accompanies this report, will show that it lies at 
the foot of a broken and mountainous region, along which, by the 
establishment of small posts, in the neighborhood of St. Vrain's fort, 
on the South fork of the Platte, and Bent's fort, on the Arkansas, a 
line of communication would be formed, by good wagon roads, with 
our southern military posts, which would entirely command the 
mountain passes, hold some of the most troublesome tribes in check, 
and protect and facilitate our intercourse with the neighboring Span- 
ish settlements. The vallies of the rivers on which they would be 
situated are fertile; the country which supports immense herds of 
buffalo is admirably adapted to grazing, and herds of catde might 
be maintained by the posts, or obtained from the Spanish country, 
which already supplies a portion of their provisions to the trading 
posts mentioned above. 

Just as we were leaving the camp this morning our Indian came 
up, and stated his intention of not proceeding any further until he 
had seen the horse which I intended to give him. I felt strongly 
tempted to drive him out of the camp, but his presence appeared to 
give confidence to my men, and the interpreter thought it absolutely 

50. See Map 2 (Map Portfolio). 


necessary. I was, therefore, obliged to do what he requested, and 
pointed out the animal, with which he seemed satisfied, and we con- 
tinued our journey. I had imagined that Mr. Rissonette's long resi- 
dence had made him acquainted with the country, and, according to 
his advice, proceeded directly forward without attempting to regain 
the usual road. He afterward informed me that he had rarely ever 
lost sight of the fort; but the effect of the mistake was to involve us 
for a day or two among the hills, where, although we lost no time, 
we encountered an exceedingly rough road. 

To the south, along our line of march to-day, the main chain of 
the Black or Laramie Hills'^^ rises precipitatous [precipitously]. 
Time did not permit me to visit them, but, from comparative infor- 
mation, the ridge is composed of the coarse sandstone or conglom- 
erate hereafter described. It appears to enter the region of clouds, 
which are arrested in their course and lie in masses along the sum- 
mits. An inverted cone of black cloud (cumulus) rested during all 
the forenoon on the lofty peak of Laramie Mountain, which I esti- 
mated to be about two thousand feet above the fort, or six thousand 
five hundred above the sea. We halted to noon on the Fourche 
Amere [Cottonwood Creek], so called from being timbered prin- 
cipally with the Hard amere (a species of poplar), with which the 
valley of the little stream is tolerably well wooded, and which, with 
large expansive summits, grows to the height of sixty or seventy 

The bed of the creek is sand and gravel, the water dispersed over 
the broad bed in several shallow streams. We found here, on the 
right bank, in the shade of the trees, a fine spring of very cold water. 
It will be remarked that I do not mention, in this portion of the 
journey, the temperature of the air, sand, springs, &c., an omission 
which will be explained in the course of the narrative. In my search 
for plants, I was well rewarded at this place. 

With the change in the geological formation, on leaving Fort 
Laramie, the whole face of the country has entirely altered its ap- 
pearance. Eastward of that meridian, the principal objects which 
strike the eye of a traveller are the absence of timber, and the im- 
mense expanse of prairie, covered with the verdure of rich grasses, 
and highly adapted for pasturage. Wherever they are not disturbed 
by the vicinity of man, large herds of buffalo give animation to this 

5L The Laramie Range of the Rockies. 


country. Westward of Laramie river, the region is sandy and ap- 
parently sterile; and the place of the grass is usurped by the artemisia 
and other odoriferous plants, to whose growth the sandy soil and dry 
air of this elevated region seem highly favorable. 

One of the prominent characteristics in the face of the country is 
the extraordinary abundance of the artemisias. They grow every 
where, on the hills, and over the river bottoms, in tough, twisted, 
wiry clumps; and, wherever the beaten track was left, they rendered 
the progress of the carts rough and slow. As the country increased in 
elevation on our advance to the west, they increased in size; and the 
whole air is strongly impregnated and saturated with the odor of 
camphor and spirits of turpentine which belongs to this plant. This 
climate has been found very favorable to the restoration of health, 
particularly in cases of consumption ; and possibly the respiration of 
air, so highly impregnated by aromatic plants, may have some in- 

Our dried meat had given out, and we began to be in want of 
food; but one of the hunters killed an antelope this evening, which 
afforded some relief, although it did not go far among so many 
hungry men. At 8 o'clock at night, after a march of twenty-seven 
miles, we reached our proposed encampment on the Fer-a-Cheval, 
or Horse Shoe creek. Here we found good grass, with a great quan- 
tity of prele, which furnished good food for our tired animals. This 
creek is well timbered, principally with Hard amere, and, with the 
exception of Deer creek, which we had not yet reached, is the largest 
affluent of the right bank between Laramie and the mouth of the 
Sweet Water. 

]uly 23. — The present year had been one of unparalleled drought, 
and throughout the country the water had been almost dried up. By 
availing themselves of the annual rise, the traders had invariably suc- 
ceeded in carrying their furs to the Missouri ; but this season, as has 
already been mentioned, on both forks of the Platte they had en- 
tirely failed. The greater number of the springs and many of the 
streams which made halting places for the voyageurs, had been dried 
up. Every where the soil looked parched and burnt, the scanty yellow 
grass crisped under the foot, and even the hardiest plants were de- 
stroyed by want of moisture. I think it necessary to mention this 
fact, because to the rapid evaporation in such an elevated region, 
nearly 5,000 feet above the sea, almost wholly unprotected by timber, 
should be attributed much of the sterile appearance of the country, 


in the destruction of vegetation, and the numerous saline efflores- 
cences which covered the ground. Such I afterward found to be the 

I was informed that the roving villages of Indians and travellers 
had never met with difficulty in finding an abundance of grass for 
their horses; and now it was after great search that we were able to 
find a scanty patch of grass, sufficient to keep them from sinking, 
and in the course of a day or two they began to suffer very much. 
We found none to-day at noon, and, in the course of our search on 
the Platte, came to a grove of cotton wood, where some Indian village 
had recently encamped. Boughs of the cottonwood yet green covered 
the ground, which the Indians had cut down to feed their horses 
upon. It is only in the winter that recourse is had to this means of 
sustaining them; and their resort to it at this time was a striking 
evidence of the state of the country. We followed their example, and 
turned our horses into a grove of young poplars. This began to pre- 
sent itself as a very serious evil, for on our animals depended alto- 
gether the further prosecution of our journey. 

Shortly after we had left this place, the scouts came galloping in 
with the alarm of Indians. We turned in immediately toward the river, 
which here had a steep high bank, where we formed with the carts a 
very close barricade, resting on the river, within which the animals 
were strongly hobbled and picketed. The guns were discharged and 
reloaded, and men thrown forward, under cover of the bank, in the 
direction by which the Indians were expected. Our interpreter, who, 
with the Indian, had gone to meet them, came in in about ten 
minutes, accompanied by two Sioux. They looked sulky, and we 
could obtain from them only some confused information. We learned 
that they belonged to the party which had been on the trail of the 
emigrants, whom they had overtaken at Rock Independence, on the 
Sweet Water. Here the party had disagreed, and came nigh fighting 
among themselves. One portion were desirous of attacking the 
whites, but the others were opposed to it; and finally they had 
broken up into small bands and dispersed over the country. The 
greater portion of them had gone over into the territory of the 
Crows, and intended to return by way of the Wind river valley, in 
the hope of being able to fall upon some small parties of Crow 
Indians. The remainder were returning down the Platte in scattered 
parties of ten and twenty, and those whom we had encountered be- 
longed to those who had advocated an attack on the emigrants. 


Several of the men suggested shooting them on the spot; but I 
promptly discountenanced any such proceeding. They further in- 
formed me that buflfalo were very scarce, and little or no grass to 
be found. There had been no rain, and innumerable quantities of 
grasshoppers had destroyed the grass. This insect had been so nu- 
merous since leaving Fort Laramie, that the ground seemed alive 
with them; and in walking, a little moving cloud preceded our foot- 
steps. This was bad news. No grass, no buffalo — food for neither 
horse nor man. I gave them some plugs of tobacco and they went 
off, apparently well satisfied to be clear of us; for my men did not 
look upon them very lovingly, and they glanced suspiciously at our 
warlike preparations, and the little ring of rifles which surrounded 
them. They were evidently in a bad humor, and shot one of their 
horses when they had left us a short distance. 

We continued our march, and after a journey of about twenty- 
one miles, encamped on the Platte. During the day, I had occasion- 
ally remarked among the hills the psomlea esculenta, the bread root 
of the Indians. The Sioux use this root very extensively, and I have 
frequently met with it among them, cut into thin slices and dried. In 
the course of the evening we were visited by six Indians, who told 
us that a larger party was encamped a few miles above. Astronomi- 
cal observations placed us in longitude 106° 03' 40", and latitude 
42° 39' 25". 

We made the next day twenty-two miles, and encamped on the 
right bank of the Platte, where a handsome meadow afforded toler- 
ably good grass. There were the remains of an old fort here [La- 
bonte's Camp], thrown up in some sudden emergency, and on the 
opposite side was a picturesque bluff of ferruginous sandstone. There 
was a handsome grove a little above, and scattered groups of trees 
bordered the river. Buffalo made their appearance this afternoon, 
and the hunters came in shortly after we had encamped, with three 
fine cows. The night was fine, and observations gave for the latitude 
of the camp, 42° 47' 40". 

]uly 25. — We made but thirteen miles this day, and encamped 
about noon in a pleasant grove on the right bank. Low scaffolds 
were erected, upon which the meat was laid, cut up into thin strips, 
and small fires kindled below. Our object was to profit by the 
vicinity of the buffalo, to lay in a stock of provisions for ten or 
fifteen days. In the course of the afternoon, the hunters brought in 
five or six cows, and all hands were kept busily employed in pre- 


paring the meat, to the drying of which the guard attended during 
the night. Our people had recovered their gaiety, and the busy fig- 
ures around the blazing fires gave a picturesque air to the camp. A 
very serious accident occurred this morning, in the breaking of one 
of the barometers. These had been the object of my constant solici- 
tude, and, as I had intended them principally for mountain service, 
I had used them as seldom as possible; taking them always down at 
night, and on the occurrence of storms, in order to lessen the chances 
of being broken. I was reduced to one, a standard barometer of 
Troughton's construction. This I determined to preserve, if possible. 
The latitude is 42° 51' 35", and by a mean of the results from chro- 
nometer and lunar distances, the adopted longitude of this camp is 
106° 25' 10". 

]uly 26. — Early this morning we were again in motion. We had a 
stock of provisions for fifteen days, carefully stored away in the 
carts, and this I resolved should only be encroached upon when our 
rifles should fail to procure us present support, I determined to 
reach the mountains, if it were in any way possible. In the mean- 
time, buffalo were plenty. In six miles from our encampment, 
which, by way of distinction, we shall call Dried Meat camp, we 
crossed a handsome stream, called La Fourche Boisee [Box Elder 
Creek]. It is well timbered, and among the flowers in bloom on 
banks, I remarked several asters. 

Five miles further we made our noon halt, on the banks of the 
Platte, in the shade of some cottonwoods. There were here, as gen- 
erally now along the river, thickets of hippophaoe, the grains de 
bocuf of the country. They were of two kinds; one bearing a red 
berry, (the shepherdia argentia of Nuttall;) the other a yellow berry, 
of which the Tartars are said to make a kind of rob [rub]. 

By a meridian observation, the latitude of the place was 42° 50' 
08". It was my daily practice to take observations of the sun's merid- 
ian altitude, and why they are not given, will appear in the sequel. 
Eight miles further we reached the mouth of Deer creek, where we 
encamped. Here was an abundance of rich grass, and our animals 
were compensated for past privations. This stream was at this time 
twenty feet broad, and well timbered with cottonwood of an un- 
common size. It is the largest tributary of the Platte, between the 
mouth of the Sweet Water and the Laramie. Our astronomical 
observations gave for the mouth of the stream a longitude of 106° 
43' 15", and latitude 42° 52' 24". 


]uly 27. — Nothing worthy of mention occurred on this day; we 
travelled later than usual, having spent some time in searching for 
grass, crossing and recrossing the river before we could find a suf- 
ficient quantity for our animals. Toward dusk, we encamped among 
some artemisia bushes, two and three feet in height, where some 
scattered patches of short tough grass afforded a scanty supply. In 
crossing, we had occasion to observe that the river was frequently 
too deep to be forded, though we always succeeded in finding a 
place where the water did not enter the carts. The stream continued 
very clear, with two or three hundred feet breadth of water, and the 
sandy bed and banks were frequently covered with large round 
pebbles. We had travelled this day twenty-seven miles. The main 
chain of the Black Hills was here only about seven miles to the 
south, on the right bank of the river, rising abruptly to the height 
of eight and twelve hundred feet. Patches of green grass in the 
ravines on the steep sides, marked the presence of springs, and the 
summits were clad with pines. 

]uly 28. — In two miles from our encampment we reached the 
place where the regular road crosses the Platte. There was two hun- 
dred feet breadth of water at this time in the bed, which has a vari- 
able width of eight to fifteen hundred feet. The channels were 
generally three feet deep, and there were large angular rocks on the 
bottom, which made the ford in some places a little difficult. Even 
at its low stages this river cannot be crossed at random, and this has 
always been used as the best ford. The low stage of the waters the 
present year had made it fordable in almost any part of its course, 
where access could be had to its bed. 

For the satisfaction of travellers, I will endeavor to give some 
description of the nature of the road from Laramie to this point. 
The nature of the soil may be inferred from its geological formation. 
The limestone at the eastern limit of this section, is succeeded by 
limestone without fossils, a great variety of sandstone, consisting 
principally of red sandstone and fine conglomerates. The red sand- 
stone is argillaceous, with compact white gypsum or alabaster, very 
beautiful. The other sandstones are gray, yellow, and ferruginous, 
sometimes very coarse. The apparent sterility of the country must 
therefore be sought for in other causes than the nature of the soil. 
The face of the country cannot with propriety be called hilly. It is 
a succession of long ridges, made by the numerous streams which 
come down from the neighboring mountain range. The ridges have 


an undulating surface, with some such appearance as the ocean 
presents in an ordinary breeze. 

The road which is now generally followed through this region is, 
therefore, a very good one, without any difficult ascents to over- 
come. The principal obstructions are near the river, where the 
transient waters of heavy rains have made deep ravines with steep 
banks, which renders frequent circuits necessary. It will be remem- 
bered that wagons pass this road only once or twice a year, which 
is by no means sufficient to break down the stubborn roots of the 
innumerable artemisia bushes. A partial absence of these is often 
the only indication of the track, and the roughness produced by 
their roots in many places gives the road the character of one newly 
opened in a wooded country. This is usually considered the worst 
part of the road east of the mountains, and as it passes through an 
open prairie region, may be much improved, so as to avoid the 
greater part of the inequalities it now presents. 

From the mouth of the Kanzas to the Green river valley, west of 
the Rocky Mountains, there is no such thing as a mountain road on 
the line of communication. 

We continued our way, and four miles beyond the ford, Indians 
were discovered again, and I halted while a party were sent forward 
to ascertain who they were. In a short time they returned, accompa- 
nied by a number of Indians of the Oglallah band of Sioux. From 
them we received some interesting information. They had formed 
part of the great village, which they informed us had broken up, 
and was on its way home.^^ The greater part of the village, includ- 
ing the Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and Oglallahs, had crossed the 
Platte eight or ten miles below the mouth of the Sweet Water, and 
were now behind the mountains to the south of us, intending to 
regain the Platte by way of Deer creek. They had taken this unusual 
route in search of grass and game. They gave us a very discouraging 
picture of the country. The great drought, and the plague of grass- 
hoppers, had swept it so, that scarce a blade of grass was to be seen, 
and there was not a buflfalo to be found in the whole region. Their 
people, they further said, had been nearly starved to death, and we 
would find their road marked by lodges which they had thrown 

52. Deleted from the end of this sentence in the manuscript draft: "in a 
very miserable cond." 


away in order to move more rapidly, and by the carcasses of the 
horses which they had eaten, or which had perished by starvation. 
Such was the prospect before us. 

When he had finished the interpretation of these things, Mr. Bis- 
sonette immediately rode up to me and urgently advised that I 
should entirely abandon the further prosecution of my exploration. 
"Le meilleure avis que je pourrais vous donner c'est de virer de 
suite." "The best advice I can give you, is to turn back at once." It 
was his own intention to return, as we had now reached the point to 
which he had engaged to attend me. In reply, I called up my men, 
and communicated to them fully the information I had just re- 
ceived. I then expressed to them my fixed determination to proceed 
to the end of the enterprise on which I had been sent, but as the 
situation of the country gave me some reason to apprehend that it 
might be attended with an unfortunate result to some of us, I 
would leave it optional with them to continue with me or to return. 

Among them were some five or six who I know would remain. 
We had still ten days' provisions; and, should no game be found, 
when this stock was expended, we had our horses and mules, which 
we could eat when other means of subsistence failed. But not a man 
flinched from the undertaking. "We'll eat the mules," said Basil 
Lajeunesse; and thereupon we shook hands with our interpreter 
and his Indians, and parted. With them I sent back one of my men, 
Dumes, whom the effects of an old wound in the leg rendered in- 
capable of continuing the journey on foot, and his horse seemed on 
the point of giving out. Having resolved to disencumber ourselves 
immediately of every thing not absolutely necessary to our future op- 
erations, I turned directly in toward the river, and encamped on the 
left bank, a little above the place where our council had been held, 
and where a thick grove of willows offered a suitable spot for the 
object I had in view. 

The carts having been discharged, the covers and wheels were 
taken off, and, with the frames, carried into some low places among 
the willows, and concealed in the dense foliage in such a manner 
that the glitter of the iron work might not attract the observation of 
some straggling Indian. In the sand which had been blown up into 
waves among the willows, a large hole was then dug, ten feet square 
and six deep. In the meantime, all our effects had been spread out 
upon the ground, and whatever was designed to be carried along 


with us separated and laid aside, and the remaining part carried to 
the hole and carefully covered up.^^ As much as possible, all traces 
of our proceedings were obliterated, and it wanted but a rain to 
render our cache safe beyond discovery. All the men were now set 
at work to arrange the pack-saddles and make up the packs. 

The day was very warm and calm, and the sky entirely clear, ex- 
cept where, as usual along the summits of the mountainous ridge 
opposite, the clouds had congregated in masses. Our lodge had been 
planted, and, on account of the heat, the ground pins had been taken 
out, and the lower part slightly raised. Near to it was standing the 
barometer, which swung in a tripod frame; and within the lodge, 
where a small fire had been built, Mr. Preuss was occupied in observ- 
ing the temperature of boiling water. At this instant, and without 
any warning until it was within fifty yards, a violent gust of wind 
dashed down the lodge, burying under it Mr. Preuss^"* and 
about a dozen men, who had attempted to keep it from being 
carried away. I succeeded in saving the barometer, which the lodge 
was carrying off with itself, but the thermometer was broken. We 
had no others of a high graduation, none of those which remained 
going higher than 135° Fahrenheit. Our astronomical observations 
gave to this place, which we named Cache camp, a longitude of 
107° 15'55", latitude 42° 50' 53". 

]uly 29. — All our arrangements having been completed, we left 
the encampment at 7 o'clock this morning. In this vicinity the ordi- 
nary road leaves the Platte, and crosses over to the Sweet Water 
river, which it strikes near Rock Independence. Instead of following 
this road, I had determined to keep the immediate valley of the 
Platte so far as the mouth of the Sweet Water, in the expectation 
of finding better grass. To this I was further prompted by the na- 
ture of my instructions. To Mr. Carson was assigned the office of 
guide, as we had now reached a part of the country with which, or 
a great part of which, long residence had made him familiar. In a 
few miles we reached the Red Buttes,^^ a famous landmark in this 

53. Deleted at this point in the manuscript draft, a partial sentence: "Here 
were deposited the harness of the mules, the greatest part of our clothing, a 
store of powder and lead. . . ." 

54. The Preuss diary skips from 27 to 31 July, and thus we are deprived of 
his own caustic record of this incident. 

55. Another well-known landmark on the trail to South Pass, about fifteen 
miles southwest of Casper, Wyo., on state highway 220. 


country, whose geological composition is red sandstone, limestone, 
and calcareous sandstone and puddingstone. 

The river here cuts its way through a ridge ; on the eastern side of 
it are the lofty escarpments of red argillaceous sandstone, which are 
called the Red Buttes. In this passage the stream is not much com- 
pressed or pent up, there being a bank of considerable though vari- 
able breadth on either side. Immediately on entering we discovered 
a band of buflfalo. The hunters failed to kill any of them, the leading 
hunter being thrown into a ravine, which occasioned some delay, 
and in the meantime the herd clambered up the steep face of the 
ridge. It is sometimes wonderful to see these apparently clumsy 
animals make their way up and down the most rugged and broken 
precipices. We halted to noon before we had cleared this passage 
at a spot twelve miles distant from Cache camp, where we found an 
abundance of grass. So far the account of the Indians was found to 
be false. On the banks were willow and cherry trees. The cherries 
were not yet ripe, but in the thickets were numerous fresh tracks of 
the grizzly bear, which are very fond of this fruit. The soil here is 
red, the composition being derived from the red sandstone. About 
seven miles brought us through the ridge, in which the course of 
the river is north and south. Here the valley opens out broadly, and 
high walls of the red formation present themselves among the hills 
to the east. We crossed here a pretty little creek, an affluent of the 
right bank. It is well timbered with cottonwood in this vicinity, and 
the absinthe [Artemisia] has lost its shrub-like character, and be- 
comes small trees six and eight feet in height, and sometimes eight 
inches in diameter. Two or three miles above this creek we made 
our encampment, having travelled to-day twenty-five miles. Our 
animals fared well here, as there is an abundance of grass. The river 
bed is made up of pebbles, and in the bank at the level of the water 
is a conglomerate of coarse pebbles about the size of ostrich eggs, 
and which I remarked in the banks of the Laramie fork. It is over- 
laid by a soil of mixed clay and sand, six feet thick. By astronomical 
observations our position is in longitude 107° 29' 06'', and latitude 42° 

July 30. — After travelling about twelve miles this morning, we 
reached a place where the Indian village had crossed the river. Here 
were the poles of discarded lodges and skeletons of horses lying 
about. Mr. Carson, who had never been higher up than this point 
on the river, which has the character of being exceedingly rugged 


and walled in by precipices above, thought it advisable to camp 
near this place, where we were certain of obtaining grass, and to- 
morrow make our crossing among the rugged hills to the Sweet 
Water river. Accordingly we turned back and descended the river 
to an island near by, which was about twenty acres in size, covered 
with a luxuriant growth of grass. The formation here I found 
highly interesting. Immediately at this island the river is again shut 
up in the rugged hills, which come down to it from the main ridge 
in a succession of spurs three or four hundred feet high, and alter- 
nated with green level prairillons or meadows, bordered on the 
river banks with thickets of willow, and having many plants to in- 
terest the traveller. The island lies between two of these ridges, three 
or four hundred yards apart, of which that on the right bank is com- 
posed entirely of red argillaceous sandstone, with thin layers of 
fibrous gypsum. On the left bank, the ridge is composed entirely of 
siliceous puddingstone, the pebbles in the numerous strata increas- 
ing in size from the top to the bottom, where they are as large as a 
man's head. So far as I was able to determine, these strata incline to 
the northeast, with a dip of about 15°. This puddingstone or con- 
glomerate formation I was enabled to trace through an extended 
range of country, from a few miles east of the meridian of Fort 
Laramie to where I found it superimposed on the granite of the 
Rocky Mountains, in longitude 109° 30'. From its appearance, the 
main chain of the Laramie mountain is composed of this rock ; and 
in a number of places I found isolated hills, which served to mark a 
former level, which had been probably swept away. 

These conglomerates are very friable and easily decomposed; and 
I am inclined to think this formation is the source from which was 
derived the great deposite of sand and gravel which forms the sur- 
face rock of the prairie country west of the Mississippi. 

Crossing the ridge of red sandstone, and traversing the little 
prairie which lies to the southward of it, we made in the afternoon 
an excursion to a place which we have called the Hot Spring Gate, 
This place has much the appearance of a gate, by which the Platte 
passes through a ridge composed of a white and calcareous sand- 
stone. The length of the passage is about four hundred yards, with a 
smooth green prairie on either side. Through this place, the stream 
flows with a quiet current, unbroken by any rapid, and is about sev- 
enty yards wide between the walls, which rise perpendicularly from 
the water. To that on the right bank, which is the lower, the 


barometer gave a height of three hundred and sixty feet. Annexed is 
a view of this place, which will be more particularly described 
hereafter, as we passed through it on our return. 

We saw here numerous herds of mountain sheep, and frequently 
heard the volley of rattling stones which accompanied their rapid de- 
scent down the steep hills. This was the first place at which we had 
killed any of these animals; and, in consequence of this circumstance, 
and of the abundance of these sheep or goats (for they are called by 
each name), we gave to our encampment the name of Goat Island. 
Their flesh is much esteemed by the hunters, and has very much the 
flavor of the Allegany [sic] mountain sheep. I have frequently seen 
the horns of this animal three feet long and seventeen inches in 
circumference at the base, weighing eleven pounds. But two or three 
of these were killed by our party at this place, and of these the horns 
were small. The use of these horns seems to be to protect the animal's 
head in pitching down precipices to avoid pursuing wolves — their 
only safety being in places where they cannot be followed. The bones 
are very strong and solid, the marrow occupying but a very small por- 
tion of the bone in the leg, about the thickness of a rye straw. The hair 
is short, resembling the winter color of our common deer, which 
it nearly approaches in size and appearance. Except in the horns, it 
has no resemblance whatever to the goat. The longitude of this 
place, resulting from chronometer and lunar distances, and an occul- 
tation of e Arietis, is 107° 37' 27", and the latitude is 42° 33' 27". One 
of our horses, which had given out, we left to receive strength on the 
island, intending to take her, perhaps, on our return. 

July 31. — This morning we left the course of the Platte, to cross 
over to the Sweet Water. Our way for a few miles lay up the sandy 
bed of a dry creek, in which I found several interesting plants. Leav- 
ing this we wound our way to the summit of the hills, of which the 
peaks are here eight hundred feet above the Platte, bare and rocky. 
A long and gradual slope led from these hills to the Sweet Water, 
which we reached in fifteen miles from Goat Island. I made an 
early encampment here, in order to give the hunters an opportunity 
to procure a supply from several bands of buffalo, which made their 
appearance in the valley near by. The stream here is about sixty feet 
wide, and at this time twelve to eighteen inches deep, with a very 
moderate current. 

The adjoining prairies are sandy; but the immediate river bottom 
is good soil, which afforded an abundance of soft green grass to 







• ^^ 






our horses, and where I found a variety of interesting plants, which 
made their appearance for the first time. A rain to-night made it un- 
pleasantly cold ; and there was no tree here, to enable us to pitch our 
single tent, the poles of which had been left at Cache camp. We 
had, therefore, no shelter except what was to be found under cover 
of the abs'mthe bushes, which grew in many thick patches, one or 
two and sometimes three feet high. 

August 1. — The hunters went ahead this morning, as buffalo ap- 
peared tolerably abundant, and I was desirous to secure a small 
stock of provisions, and we moved about seven miles up the valley, 
and encamped one mile below Rock Independence. This is an iso- 
lated granite rock, about six hundred and fifty yards long, and forty 
in height. Except in a depression of the summit, where a little soil 
supports a scanty growth of shrubs, with a solitary dwarf pine, it is 
entirely bare. Everywhere within six or eight feet of the ground, 
where the surface is sufficiently smooth, and in some places sixty or 
eighty feet above, the rock is inscribed with the names of travellers. 
Many a name famous in the history of this country, and some well- 
known to science, are to be found mixed among those of the traders 
and of travellers for pleasure and curiosity, and of missionaries 
among the savages. Some of these have been washed away by the 
rain, but the greater number are still very legible.^^ The position of 
this rock is in longitude 107° 56', latitude 42° 29' 36". We remained 
at our camp of August 1st until noon of the next day, occupied in 
drying meat. By observation, the longitude of the place is 107° 55', 
latitude 42° 29' 56". 

August 2. — Five miles above Rock Independence we came to a 
place called the Devil's Gate, where the Sweet Water cuts through 
the point of a granite ridge. The length of the passage is about three 
hundred yards, and the width thirty-five yards. The walls of rock 
are vertical, and about four hundred feet in height; and the stream 
in the gate is almost entirely choked up by masses which have 
fallen from above. In the wall, on the right bank, is a dike of trap 
rock, cutting through a fine-grained gray granite. Near the point of 
this ridge crop out some strata of the valley formation, consisting of 
a grayish micaceous sandstone, and fine-grained conglomerate, and 
marl. We encamped eight miles above the Devil's Gate, of which 

56. Independence Rock, on Wyoming state highway 220, is now protected 
from the further carving of graffiti by a strong steel fence. 



a view is given in the annexed plate [p. 248].'" There was no timber 
of any kind on the river, but good fires were made of drift wood, 
aided by the bois de vache. 

We had tonight no shelter from the rain, which commenced with 
squalls of wind about sunset. The country here is exceedingly pictur- 
esque. On either side of the valley, which is four or five miles broad, 
the mountains rise to the height of twelve and fifteen hundred, or 
two thousand feet. On the south side, the range appears to be tim- 
bered, and to-night is luminous with fires, probably the work of the 
Indians, who have just passed through the valley. On the north, 
broken and granite masses rise abruptly from the green sward of the 
river, terminating in a line of broken summits. Except in the crevices 
of the rock, and here and there on a ledge or bench of the moun- 
tain, where a few hardy pines have clustered together, these are per- 
fectly bare and destitute of vegetation. 

Among these masses, where there are sometimes isolated hills and 
ridges, green valleys open in upon the river, which sweeps the base 
of these mountains for thirty-six miles. Everywhere its deep verdure 
and profusion of beautiful flowers is in pleasing contrast with the 
sterile grandeur of the rock and the barrenness of the sandy plain, 
which, from the right bank of the river, sweeps up to the mountain 
range that forms its southern boundary. The great evaporation on 
the sandy soil of this elevated plain, and the saline efflorescences 
which whiten the ground, and shine like lakes reflecting the sun, 
make a soil wholly unfit for cultivation. 

August 3. — We were early on the road the next morning, travel- 
ling along the upper part of the valley, which is overgrown with 
artemisia. Scattered about on the plain are occasional small isolated 
hills. One of these which I examined, about fifty feet high, con- 
sisted of white clay and marl, in nearly horizontal strata. Several 
bands of buffalo made their appearance to-day, with herds of ante- 
lope; and a grizzly bear — the only one we encountered during the 
journey — was seen scrambling up among the rocks. As we passed 

57. The name Devil's Gate apparently was quite new. Father De Smet 
went to the mountains in 1840 without mentioning it, but on his second 
journey, in a letter dated 16 Aug. 1841, he said that "travellers have named 
this spot the Devil's Entrance" (quoted from anderson, 182n). The appella- 
tion, Devil's Gate, came into use soon after the appearance of JCF's Report. 
The view of the formation in this edition (see p. 248) may derive from a 
daguerreotype, although Preuss did not think that JCF had produced any 
good plates when he set up his equipment here. 


over a slight rise near the river, we caught the first view of the Wind 
River mountains, appearing at this distance of about seventy miles, 
to be a low and dark mountainous ridge. The view dissipated in a 
moment the pictures which had been created in our minds, by many 
descriptions of travellers, who have compared these mountains to the 
Alps in Switzerland; and speak of the glittering peaks which rise 
in icy majesty amidst the eternal glaciers nine or ten thousand feet 
into the region of eternal snows.^^ The nakedness of the river was 
relieved by groves of willows, where we encamped at night, after a 
march of twenty-six miles; and numerous bright-colored flowers had 
made the river bottom look gay as a garden. We found here a horse, 
which had been abandoned by the Indians, because his hoofs had 
been so much worn that he was unable to travel; and, during the 
night, a dog came into the camp. 

August 4.— Our camp was at the foot of the Granite mountains, 
which we climbed this morning to take some barometrical heights; 
and here among the rocks was seen the first magpie. On our return, 
we saw one at the mouth of the Platte river. We left here one of our 
horses, which was unable to proceed farther. A few miles from the 
encampment we left the river, which makes a bend to the south, and 
traversing an undulating country, consisting of a grayish micaceous 
sandstone and fine-grained conglomerates, struck it again, and en- 
camped after a journey of twenty-five miles. Astronomical observa- 
tions placed us in latitude 42° 32' 30". 

August 5.— The morning was dark, with a driving rain, and dis- 
agreeably cold. We continued our route as usual, but the weather 
became so bad that we were glad to avail ourselves of the shelter 
offered by a small island, about ten miles above our last encamp- 
ment, which was covered with a dense growth of willows. There 
was fine grass for our animals, and the timber afforded us com- 
fortable protection and good fires. In the afternoon the sun broke 

58. Deleted from the manuscript draft here: "As we had been drawing 
nearer to the mountains, Mr. Preuss had kept constandy before his mmd 
the moment in which he had first seen the Alps; when, turning a corner of the 
Jura between Basle and Tololburn, the whole ridge, from Mt. Blanc to the 
Tyrolese Alps, burst upon his view in the glory of a bright sunshine, and his 
disappointment | in seeing the Wind River Mountains] was proportionably 
great." In his diary entry for 4 Aug., Preuss mentions his experience in the 
Alps and is predictably disdainful of the Rockies. "An American has 
measured them to be as high as 25,000 feet. I'll be hanged if they are half as 
high, yea, if they are 8,000 feet high" (preuss, 33). 


through the clouds for a short time, and the barometer at 5 P. M., 
was at 23.713, the thermometer at 60°, with the wind strong from 
the northwest. We availed ourselves of the fine weather to make ex- 
cursions in the neighborhood. The river, at this place, is bordered 
by hills of the valley formation. They are of moderate height, one of 
the highest peaks on the right bank being, according to the barom- 
eter, one hundred and eighty feet above the river. On the left bank 
they are higher. They consist of a fine white clayey sandstone, a 
white calcareous sandstone, and coarse sandstone or puddingstone. 
August 6. — It continued steadily raining all the day; but, notwith- 
standing, we left our encampment in the afternoon. Our animals 
had been much refreshed by their repose, and an abundance of rich, 
soft grass, which had been much improved by the rains. In about 
three miles, we reached the entrance of a hanyon, where the Sweet 
Water issues upon the more open valley we had passed over. Im- 
mediately at the entrance, and superimposed directly upon the 
granite are strata of compact, calcareous sandstone and chert, alter- 
nating with fine white and reddish white, and fine gray and red 
sandstones. These strata dip to the eastward at an angle of about 18°, 
and form the western limit of the sandstone and limestone forma- 
tions on the line of our route. Here we entered among the primitive 
rocks. The usual road passes to the right of this place, but we wound, 
or rather scrambled, our way up the narrow valley for several hours. 
Wildness and disorder were the character of this scenery. The river 
had been swollen by the late rains, and came rushing through with 
an impetuous current, three or four feet deep, and generally twenty 
yards broad. The valley was sometimes the breadth of the stream, 
and sometimes opened into little green meadows, sixty yards wide, 
with open groves of aspen. The stream was bordered throughout 
with aspen, beech, and willow; and tall pines grew on the sides and 
summits of the crags. On both sides, the granite rocks rose precip- 
itously to the height of three hundred and five hundred feet, termi- 
nating in jagged and broken pointed peaks; and fragments of fallen 
rock lay piled up at the foot of the precipices. Gneiss, mica slate, and 
a white granite, were among the varieties I noticed. Here were many 
old traces of beaver on the stream, remnants of dams, near which 
were lying trees, which they had cut down, one and two feet in 
diameter. The hills entirely shut up the river at the end of about 
five miles, and we turned up a ravine that led to a high prairie, 
which seemed to be the general level of the country. Hence, to the 


summit of the ridge, there is a regular and very gradual rise. Blocks 
of granite were piled up at the heads of the ravines, and small bare 
knolls of mica slate and milky quartz protruded at frequent inter- 
vals on the prairie, which was whitened in occasional spots with 
small salt lakes where the water had evaporated, and left the bed 
covered with a shining incrustation of salt. The evening was very 
cold, a northwest wind driving a fine rain in our faces, and at night- 
fall we descended to a little stream on which we encamped, about 
two miles from the Sweet Water. Here had recently been a very 
large camp of Snake and Crow Indians, and some large poles lying 
about afforded the means of pitching a tent, and making other 
places of shelter. Our fires to-night were made principally of the 
dry branches of the artemisia, which covered the slopes. It burns 
quickly, with a clear oily flame, and makes a hot fire. The hills here 
are composed of hard, compact mica slate, with veins of quartz. 

August 7. — We left our encampment with the rising sun. As we 
rose from the bed of the creek, the snow line of the mountains 
stretched grandly before us, the white peaks glittering in the sun. 
They had been hidden in the dark weather of the last few days, and 
it had been snowing on them, while it rained in the plains. We 
crossed a ridge, and again struck the Sweet Water; here, a beautiful 
swift stream, with a more open valley, timbered with beech and 
Cottonwood. It now began to lose itself in the many small forks 
which make its head, and we continued up the main stream until 
near noon, when we left it a few miles to make our noon halt on a 
small creek among the hills, from which the stream issues by a small 
opening. Within was a beautiful grassy spot, covered with an open 
grove of large beech trees, among which I found several plants that 
I had not previously seen. 

The afternoon was cloudy, with squalls of rain; but the weather 
became fine at sunset, when we again encamped on the Sweet 
Water, within a few miles of the South Pass. The country, over 
which we have passed to-day, consists principally of the compact 
mica slate, which crops out on all ridges, making the uplands very 
rocky and slaty. In the escarpments which border the creeks, it is 
seen alternating with a light-colored granite, at an inclination of 
45°; the beds varying in thickness from two or three feet to six or 
eight hundred. At a distance, the granite frequently has the appear- 
ance of irregular lumps of clay, hardened by exposure. A variety of 
asters may now be numbered among the characteristic plants, and 


the artemisia continues in full glory; but cacti have become rare, 
and mosses begin to dispute the hills with them. The evening was 
damp and unpleasant, the thermometer at 10 o'clock being at 36°, 
and the grass wet with a heavy dew. Our astronomical observations 
placed this encampment in longitude 109° 51' 29'', and latitude 
42° 2/ 15". 

Early in the morning we resumed our journey, the weather still 
cloudy, with occasional rain. Our general course was west, as I had 
determined to cross the dividing ridge by a bridle path among the 
broken country more immediately at the foot of the mountains, and 
return by the wagon road two and a half miles to the south of the 
point where the trail crosses. 

About six miles from our encampment brought us to the sum- 
mit.'^'' The ascent had been so gradual that, with all the intimate 
knowledge possessed by Carson, who had made this country his 
home for seventeen years, we were obliged to watch very closely 
to find the place at which we had reached the culminating point. 
This was between two low hills, rising on either hand fifty or sixty 
feet. When I looked back at them, from the foot of the immediate 
slope on the western plain, their summits appeared to be about one 
hundred and twenty feet above. From the impression on my mind 
at this time, and subsequently on our return, I should compare the 
elevation which we surmounted at the pass, to the ascent of the 
Capitol hill from the avenue, at Washington. It is difficult for me to 
fix positively the breadth of this pass. From the broken ground 
where it commences, at the foot of the Wind River chain, the view 
to the southeast is over a champaign country, broken, at the distance 
of nineteen miles, by the Table Rock ; which, with the other isolated 
hills in its vicinity, seems to stand on a comparative plain. This I 
judged to be its termination, the ridge recovering its rugged charac- 
ter with the Table Rock. It will be seen that it in no manner re- 
sembles the places to which the term is commonly applied — nothing 
of the gorge-like character and winding ascents of the Allegany 
[sic^^ passes in America, nothing of the Great St. Bernard and Sim- 
plon passes in Europe. Approaching it from the mouth of the Sweet 
Water, a sandy plain, one hundred and twenty miles long, conducts, 

59. South Pass is not so much a place as an area. JCF is crossing it at the 
very southern extremity of the Wind River chain. Nfociern travelers who pull 
off of Wyoming state highway 220 to read the markers erected by the state, 
and by the National Park Service, are seven to ten miles south of his route. 


by a gradual and regular ascent, to the summit, about seven thou- 
sand feet above the sea ; and the traveller, without being reminded 
of any change by toilsome ascents, suddenly finds himself on the 
waters which flow to the Pacific ocean. By the route we had 
travelled, the distance from Fort Laramie is three hundred and 
twenty miles, or nine hundred and fifty from the mouth of the 

Continuing our march, we reached, in eight miles from the pass, 
the Little Sandy, one of the tributaries of the Colorado, or Green 
river of the Gulf of California.^" The weather had grown fine dur- 
ing the morning, and we remained here the rest of the day, to dry 
our baggage and take some astronomical observations. The stream 
was about forty feet wide, and two or three deep, with clear water 
and a full swift current, over a sandy bed. It was timbered with a 
growth of low, bushy and dense willows, among which were little 
verdant spots, which gave our animals fine grass, and where I found 
a number of interesting plants. Among the neighboring hills I no- 
ticed fragments of granite containing magnetic iron. Longitude of 
the camp was 110° 07' 46", and latitude 42° 2/ 34". 

August 9. — We made our noon halt today on Big Sandy, another 
tributary of Green river. The face of the country traversed was of a 
brown sand of granite materials, the detritus of the neighboring 
mountains. Strata of the milky quartz cropped out, and blocks of 
granite were scattered about containing magnetic iron. On Sandy 
creek the formation was of parti-colored sand, exhibited in escarp- 
ments fifty to eighty feet high. In the afternoon we had a severe 
storm of hail, and encamped at sun set on the first New Fork [East 
Fork River]. Within the space of a few miles, the Wind mountains 
supply a number of tributaries to Green river, which are all called 
the New Forks. Near our camp were two remarkable isolated hills, 
one of them sufficiently large to merit the name of mountain.*^^ They 
are called the Two Buttes, and will serve to identify the place of our 
encampment, which the observations of the evening placed in longi- 

60. Now JCF has left the wagon trail and struck off to the northwest, to 
reconnoiter the Wind River Mountains. His camp on the Little Sandy, ignor- 
ing his usually faulty astronomical observations, is probably southeast of 
Little Prospect Mountain. 

61. But now called Fremont Butte, and located about seven miles south 
of Boulder Lake. 


tude 110° 29' \r\ and latitude 42° 42M6". On the right bank of the 
stream, opposite to the large hill, the strata which are displayed con- 
sist of decomposing granite, which supplies the brown sand of 
which the face of the country is composed to a considerable depth. 
August 10. — The air at sunrise is clear and pure, and the morning 
extremely cold, but beautiful. A lofty snow peak of the mountain 
is glittering in the first rays of the sun, which has not yet reached us. 
The long mountain wall to the east, rising two thousand feet 
abruptly from the plain, behind which we see the peaks, is still dark, 
and cuts clear against the glowing sky. A fog, just risen from the 
river, lies along the base of the mountain. A little before sunrise, 
the thermometer was at 35°, and at sunrise })1>^ . Water froze last 
night, and fires are very comfortable. The scenery becomes hourly 
more interesting and grand, and the view here is truly magnificent; 
but, indeed, it needs something to repay the long prairie journey of 
a thousand miles. The sun has just shot above the wall, and makes 
a magical change. The whole valley is glowing and bright, and all 
the mountain peaks are gleaming like silver. Though these snow 
mountains are not the Alps, they have their own character of gran- 
deur and magnificence, and will doubtless find pens and pencils to do 
them justice. In the scene before us we feel how much wood im- 
proves a view. The pines on the mountain seemed to give it much 
additional beauty. I was agreeably disappointed in the character of 
the streams on this side of the ridge. Instead of the creeks which 
description had led me to expect, I find bold broad streams, with 
three or four feet water, and a rapid current. The fork on which we 
are encamped is upwards of a hundred feet wide, timbered with 
groves or thickets of the low willow. We were now approaching the 
loftiest part of the Wind River chain; and I left the valley a few 
miles from our encampment, intending to penetrate the mountains 
as far as possible with the whole party. We were soon involved in 
very broken ground, among long ridges covered with fragments of 
granite. Winding our way up a long ravine, we came unexpectedly 
in view of a most beautiful lake, set like a gem in the mountains. 
The sheet of water lay transversely across the direction we had been 
pursuing; and, descending the steep, rocky ridge, where it was nec- 
essary to lead our horses, we followed its banks to the southern ex- 
tremity. Here a view of the utmost magnificence and grandeur burst 
upon our eyes. With nothing between us and their feet to lessen the 


effect of the whole height, a grand bed of snow-capped mountains 
rose before us, pile upon pile, glowing in the bright light of an Au- 
gust day. Immediately below them lay the lake between two ridges 
covered with dark pines, which swept down from the main chain 
to the spot where we stood. Here, where the lake glittered in the 
open sunlight, its banks of yellow sand and the light foliage of aspen 
groves contrasted well with the gloomy pines. "Never before," said 
Mr, Preuss, "in this country or in Europe, have I seen such mag- 
nificent, grand rocks." I was so much pleased with the beauty of the 
place, that I determined to make the main camp here, where our 
animals would find good pasturage, and explore the mountains with 
a small party of men. Proceeding a little further, we came suddenly 
upon the outlet of the lake where it found its way through a narrow 
passage between low hills. Dark pines which overhung the stream 
and masses of rock where the water foamed along, gave it much 
romantic beauty. Where we crossed, which was immediately at the 
outlet, it is two hundred and fifty feet wide, and so deep, that with 
difficulty we were able to ford it. Its bed was an accumulation of 
rocks, boulders, and broad slabs, and large angular fragments, 
among which the animals fell repeatedly. 

The current was very swift, and the water cold and of a crystal 
purity. In crossing this stream, I met with a great misfortune in hav- 
ing my barometer broken. It was the only one; a great part of the 
interest of the journey for me was in the exploration of these moun- 
tains, of which so much had been said that was doubtful and con- 
tradictory; and now their snowy peaks rose majestically before 
me, and the only means of giving them authentically to science, the 
object of my anxious solicitude by night and day, was destroyed. We 
had brought this barometer in safety a thousand miles, and broke it 
almost among the snow of the mountains. The loss was felt by the 
whole camp — all had seen my anxiety, and aided me in preserving 
it; the height of these mountains, considered by the hunters and 
traders the highest in the whole range, had been a theme of constant 
discussion among them; and all had looked forward with pleasure 
to the moment when the instrument, which they believed to be true 
as the sun, should stand upon the summits, and decide their disputes. 
Their grief was only inferior to my own. 

This lake is about three miles long, and of very irregular width, 
and apparently great depth, and is the head water of the third New 
Fork, a tributary to Green river, the Colorado of the West. On the 



map and in the narrative, I have called it Mountain lake. " I en- 
camped on the north side, about three hundred and fifty yards from 
the outlet. This was the most western point at which I obtained 
astronomical observations, by which this place, called Bernier's en- 
campment, is made in 110° 37' 25" west longitude from Greenwich, 
and latitude 42° 49' 49". The mountain peaks, as laid down, were 
fixed by bearings from this and other astronomical points. We had 
no other compass than the small ones used in sketching the country; 
but from an azimuth, in which one of them was used, the variation 
of the compass is 18° east. The correction made in our field work by 
the astronomical observations indicates that this is a very correct 

As soon as the camp was formed, I set about endeavoring to repair 
my barometer. As I have already said, this was a standard cistern 
barometer, of Troughton's construction. The glass cistern had been 
broken about midway; but as the instrument had been kept in a 
proper position, no air had found its way into the tube, the end of 
which had always remained covered. I had with me a number of 
vials of tolerably thick glass, some of which were of the same 
diameter as the cistern, and I spent the day slowly working on these, 
endeavoring to cut them of the requisite length; but as my instru- 
ment was a very rough file, I invariably broke them. A groove was 
cut in one of the trees, where the barometer was placed during the 
night, to be out of the way of any possible danger, and in the morn- 
ing I commenced again. Among the powder horns in the camp, I 
found one which was very transparent, so that its contents could be 
almost as plainly seen as through glass. This I boiled, and stretched 
on a piece of wood to the requisite diameter, and scraped it very 
thin, in order to increase to the utmost its transparency. I then se- 
cured it firmly in its place on the instrument with strong glue, made 
from a bufifalo, and filled it with mercury, properly heated. A piece 
of skin, which had covered one of the vials, furnished a good pocket, 
which was well secured with strong thread and glue, and then the 
brass cover was screwed to its place. The instrument was left some 

62. In the 1845 edition of his report, JCF says he called this body of water 
Mountain Lake both on his map and in his narrative. None of his maps 
carries this legend, but judging from the description of the lake and from his 
position at the time, it can only be Boulder Lake— lying transversely across 
his route between T. 33 N. and T. 34 N. It is about seven air-line miles east 
of Pinedale, Wyo. 


time to dry, and when I reversed it, a few hours after, I had the 
satisfaction to find it in perfect order; its indications being about the 
same as on the other side of the lake, before it had been broken. Our 
success in this Httle incident diffused pleasure throughout the camp, 
and we immediately set about our preparations for ascending the 

As will be seen, on reference to a map, on this short mountain 
chain are the head waters of four great rivers of the continent; 
namely, the Colorado, Columbia, Missouri, and Platte rivers. It had 
been my design, after having ascended the mountains, to continue 
our route on the western side of the range, and crossing through a 
pass at the northwestern end of the chain, about thirty miles from 
our present camp, return along the eastern slope, across the heads 
of the Yellowstone river, and join on the line to our station of Au- 
gust 7, immediately at the foot of the ridge. In this way I should 
be enabled to include the whole chain, and its numerous waters, in 
my survey; but various considerations induced me, very reluctantly, 
to abandon this plan. 

I was desirous to keep strictly within the scope of my instructions, 
and it would have required ten or fifteen additional days for the 
accomplishment of this object; our animals had become very much 
worn out with the length of the journey; game was very scarce; and, 
though it does not appear in the course of the narrative, as I have 
avoided dwelling upon trifling incidents not connected with the 
objects of this expedition, the spirits of the men had been much 
exhausted by the hardships and privations to which they had been 
subjected. Our provisions had well nigh all disappeared. Bread had 
been long out of the question, and of all our stock we had remaining 
two or three pounds of coffee, and a small quantity of macaroni, 
which had been husbanded with great care for the mountain expedi- 
tion we were about to undertake. Our daily meal consisted of dry 
buffalo meat, cooked in tallow; and, as we had not dried this with 
Indian skill, part of it was spoiled; and what remained of good, was 
as hard as wood, having much the taste and appearance of so many 
pieces of bark. Even of this our stock was rapidly diminishing in a 
camp which was capable of consuming two buffaloes in every 
twenty-four hours. These animals had entirely disappeared, and it 
was not probable that we should fall in with them again until we 
returned to the Sweet Water. 

Our arrangements for the ascent were rapidly completed; we 


were in a hostile country, which rendered the greatest vigilance and 
circumspection necessary. The pass at the north end of the moun- 
tain was generally infested by Blackfeet, and immediately opposite 
was one of their forts, on the edge of a little thicket, two or three 
hundred feet from our encampment. We were posted in a grove of 
beech, on the margin of the lake, and a few hundred feet long, with 
a narrow prairillon on the inner side, bordered by the rocky ridge. 
In the upper end of this grove we cleared a circular space about forty 
feet in diameter, and with the felled timber and interwoven 
branches surrounded it with a breastwork five feet in height. A gap 
was left for a gate on the inner side, by which the animals were to be 
driven in and secured, while the men slept around the little work. 
It was half hidden by the foliage; and garrisoned by twelve resolute 
men, would have set at defiance any band of savages which might 
chance to discover them in the interval of our absence. Fifteen of the 
best mules, with fourteen men, were selected for the mountain 
party. Our provisions consisted of dried meat for two days, with 
our little stock of cofiFee and some macaroni. In addition to the 
barometer and a thermometer, I took with me a sextant and spy 
glass, and we had, of course, our compasses. In charge of the camp I 
left Bernier, one of my most trustworthy men, who possessed the 
most determined courage. 

August 12. — Early in the morning we left the camp, fifteen in 
number, well armed of course, and mounted on our best mules. A 
pack animal carried our provisions, with a coffee pot and kettle, 
and three or four tin cups. Every man had a blanket strapped over 
his saddle to serve for his bed, and the instruments were carried by 
turns on their backs. We entered directly on rough and rocky 
ground; and, just after crossing the ridge, had the good fortune to 
shoot an antelope. We heard the roar, and had a glimpse of a water- 
fall as we rode along; and crossing in our way two fine streams, 
tributary to the Colorado, in about two hours' ride we reached the 
top of the first row or range of mountains. Here, again, a view of 
the most romantic beauty met our eyes. It seemed as if, from the 
vast expanse of uninteresting prairie we had passed over, nature had 
collected all her beauties together in one chosen place. We were 
overlooking a deep valley, which was entirely occupied by three 
lakes, and from the brink the surrounding ridges rose precipitously 
five hundred and a thousand feet, covered with the dark green of 
the balsam pine, relieved on the border of the lake with the light 


foliage of the aspen. They all communicated with each other, and 
the green of the waters, common to mountain lakes of great depth, 
showed that it would be impossible to cross them. The surprise 
manifested by our guides when these impassable obstacles suddenly 
barred our progress, proved that they were among the hidden 
treasures of the place, unknown even to the wandering trappers of 
the region. Descending the hill, we proceeded to make our way 
along the margin of the southern extremity. A narrow strip of angu- 
lar fragments of rock sometimes afforded a rough pathway for our 
mules, but generally we rode along the shelving side, occasionally 
scrambling up at a considerable risk of tumbling back into the lake. 

The slope was frequently 60°; the pines grew densely together, 
and the ground was covered with the branches and trunks of trees. 
The air was fragrant with the odor of the pines; and I realized 
this delightful morning the pleasure of breathing that mountain air 
which makes a constant theme of the hunter's praise, and which 
now made us feel as if we had all been drinking some exhilarating 
gas. The depths of this unexplored forest were a place to delight 
the heart of a botanist. There was a rich undergrowth of plants, 
and numerous gay-colored flowers in brilliant bloom. We reached 
the outlet at length, where some freshly barked willows that lay 
in the water showed that beaver had been recently at work. There 
were some small brown squirrels jumping about in the pines, and a 
couple of large mallard ducks swimming about in the stream. 

The hills on this southern end were low, and the lake looked like 
a mimic sea, as the waves broke on the sandy beach in the force of 
a strong breeze. There was a pretty, open spot, with fine grass for 
our mules, and we made our noon halt on the beach, under the 
shade of some large hemlocks. We resumed our journey after a halt 
of about an hour, making our way up the ridge on the western side 
of the lake. In search of smoother ground, we rode a little inland; 
and, passing through groves of aspen, soon found ourselves again 
among the pines. Emerging from these, we struck the summit of 
the ridge above the upper end of the lake. 

We had reached a very elevated point, and in the valley be- 
low, and among the hills, were a number of lakes at different 
levels; some two or three hundred feet above others, with which 
they communicated by foaming torrents. Even to our great height 
the roar of the cataracts came up, and we could see them leaping 
down in lines of snowy foam. From this scene of busy waters, we 


turned abruptly into the stillness of a forest, where we rode among 
the open bolls of the pines, over a lawn of verdant grass, having 
strikingly the air of cultivated grounds. This led us, after a time, 
among masses of rock which had no vegetable earth but in hollows 
and crevices, though still the pine forest continued. Toward evening, 
we reached a defile, or rather a hole in the mountains, entirely shut 
in by dark pine-covered rocks. 

A small stream, with a scarcely perceptible current, flowed 
through a level bottom of perhaps eighty yards width, where the 
grass was saturated with water. Into this the mules were turned, and 
were neither hobbled nor picketed during the night, as the fine 
pasturage took away all temptation to stray; and we made our 
bivouac in the pines. The surrounding masses were all of granite. 
While supper was being prepared, I set out on an excursion in the 
neighborhood, accompanied by one of my men. We wandered 
about among the crags and ravines until dark, richly repaid for our 
walk by a fine collection of plants, many of them in full bloom. 
Ascending a peak to find the place of our camp, we saw that the 
little defile in which we lay communicated with the long green 
valley of some stream, which, here locked up in the mountains, 
far away to the south, found its way in a dense forest to the plains. 

Looking along its upward course, it seemed to conduct, by a 
smooth gradual slope, directly toward the peak, which, from long 
consultation as we approached the mountain, we had decided to be 
the highest of the range. Pleased with the discovery of so fine a road 
for the next day, we hastened down to the camp, where we arrived 
just in time for supper. Our table service was rather scant, and we 
held the meat in our hands; and clean rocks made good plates, on 
which we spread our macaroni. Among all the strange places on 
which we had occasion to encamp during our long journey, none 
have left so vivid an impression on my mind as the camp of this 
evening. The disorder of the masses which surrounded us; the little 
hole through which we saw the stars overhead; the dark pines where 
we slept; and the rocks lit up with the glow of our fires, made a 
night picture of very wild beauty. 

August 13. — The morning was bright and pleasant, just cool 
enough to make exercise agreeable, and we soon entered the defile I 
had seen the preceding day. It was smoothly carpeted with a soft 
grass, and scattered over with groups of flowers, of which yellow 
was the predominant color. Sometimes we were forced by an occa- 


sional difficult pass to pick our way on a narrow ledge along the side 
of the defile, and the mules were frequently on their knees; but these 
obstructions were rare, and we journeyed on in the sweet morning 
air, delighted at our good fortune in having found such a beautiful 
entrance to the mountains. This road continued for about three 
miles, when we suddenly reached its termination in one of the grand 
views which, at every turn, meet the traveller in this magnificent re- 
gion. Here the defile up which we had travelled, opened out into a 
small lawn, where, in a little lake, the stream had its source. 

There were some fine asters in bloom, but all the flowering plants 
appeared to seek the shelter of the rocks, and to be of lower growth 
than below, as if they loved the warmth of the soil, and kept out of 
the way of the winds. Immediately at our feet a precipitous descent 
led to a confusion of defiles, and before us rose the mountains as we 
have represented them in the annexed view. It is not by the splendor 
of far off views, which have lent such a glory to the Alps, that these 
impress the mind; but by a gigantic disorder of enormous masses, 
and a savage sublimity of naked rock, in wonderful contrast with 
innumerable green spots of a rich floral beauty, shut up in their 
stern recesses. Their wildness seems well suited to the character of 
the people who inhabit the country. 

I determined to leave our animals here, and make the rest of our 
way on foot. The peak appeared so near, that there was no doubt of 
our returning before night, and a few men were left in charge of the 
mules, with our provisions and blankets. We took with us nothing 
but our arms and instruments, and as the day had become warm, the 
greater part left our coats. Having made an early dinner, we started 
again. We were soon involved in the most ragged precipices, nearing 
the central chain very slowly, and rising but little. The first ridge hid 
a succession of others, and when with great fatigue and difficulty we 
had climbed up five hundred feet, it was but to make an equal de- 
scent on the other side; all these intervening places were filled with 
small deep lakes, which met the eye in every direction, descending 
from one level to another, sometimes under bridges formed by huge 
fragments of granite, beneath which was heard the roar of the water. 
These constantly obstructed our path, forcing us to make long de- 
tours; frequently obliged to retrace our steps, and frequently falling 
among the rocks. Maxwell was precipitated toward the face of a 
precipice, and saved himself from going over by throwing himself 
flat on the ground. We clambered on, always expecting, with every 


ridge that we crossed, to reach the foot of the peaks, and always dis- 
appointed, until about 4 o'clock, when, pretty well worn out, we 
reached the shore of a little lake, in which there was a rocky island, 
and from which we obtained the view given in the frontispiece 
[p. 264]. We remained here a short time to rest, and continued on 
around the lake, which had in some places a beach of white sand, 
and in others was bound with rocks, over which the way was diffi- 
cult and dangerous, as the water from innumerable springs made 
them very slippery. 

By the time we had reached the further side of the lake, we found 
ourselves all exceedingly fatigued, and much to the satisfaction of 
the whole party, we encamped. The spot we had chosen was a broad 
flat rock, in some measure protected from the winds by the sur- 
rounding crags, and the trunks of fallen pines afforded us bright 
fires. Near by was a foaming torrent, which tumbled into the little 
lake about one hundred and fifty feet below us, and which, by way 
of distinction, we have called Island lake.^'' We had reached the up- 
per limit of the piney region ; as, above this point, no tree was to be 
seen, and patches of snow lay everywhere around us on the cold sides 
of the rocks. The flora of the region we had traversed since leaving 
our mules was extremely rich and, among the characteristic plants, 
the scarlet flowers of the dodecatheon detitatum everywhere met the 
eye in great abundance. A small green ravine, on the edge of which 
we were encamped, was filled with a profusion of alpine plants in 
brillant bloom.*''' From barometrical observations, made during our 
three days' sojourn at this place, its elevation above the Gulf of 
Mexico is 10,000 feet.**-^ During the day, we had seen no sign of ani- 
mal life; but among the rocks here, we heard what was supposed to 

63. Island Lake is about eighteen air-line miles northeast of Pinedale. When 
the senior editor followed JCF's route in May and June 1967, he left his 
(JCF's) trail at Boulder Lake, bonney & bonney take up the trail here at 
Island Lake, but his route between those two lakes is still conjectural. The 
current map of the Bridger Division, Bridger National Forest, shows several 
trails in the area between the two lakes, the most direct passing those lakes 
now named George, Horseshoe, Barnes, Spruce, Chain, Polecreek, Nelson, and 
Seneca. Here JCF is traveling almost due north. From Island Lake to the 
peak which he climbs, we rely mainly on the observations of the Bonneys. 

64. Added to this sentence in the manuscript draft: "among which a 
beautiful auricula delighted us with the associations of civilization." 

65. Deleted from the end of this sentence in the manuscript draft: "We 
had nothing to eat tonight." 







be the bleat of a young goat, which we searched for with hungry 
activity, and found to proceed from a small animal of a gray color, 
with short ears and no tail ; probably the Siberian squirrel. We saw a 
considerable number of them, and with the exception of a small bird 
like a sparrow, it is the only inhabitant of this elevated part of the 
mountains. On our return, we saw, below this lake, large flocks of 
the mountain goat. We had nothing to eat to-night. Lajeunesse, with 
several others, took their guns, and sallied out in search of a goat; 
but returned unsuccessful. At sunset, the barometer stood at 20.522; 
the attached thermometer 50°. Here we had the misfortune to break 
our thermometer, having now only that attached to the barometer. 
I was taken ill shortly after we had encamped, and continued so 
until late in the night, with violent headache and vomiting. This was 
probably caused by the excessive fatigue I had undergone, and want 
of food, and perhaps also in some measure, by the rarity of the air. 
The night was cold, as a violent gale from the north had sprung up 
at sunset, which entirely blew away the heat of the fires. The cold, 
and our granite beds, had not been favorable to sleep, and we were 
glad to see the face of the sun in the morning. Not being delayed by 
any preparation for breakfast, we set out immediately. 

On every side as we advanced was heard the roar of waters, and 
of a torrent, which we followed up a short distance, until it ex- 
panded into a lake about one mile in length. On the northern side 
of the lake was a bank of ice, or rather of snow, covered with a crust 
of ice. Carson had been our guide into the mountains, and agreeably 
to his advice, we left this litde valley, and took to the ridges again ; 
which we found extremely broken, and where we were again in- 
volved among precipices. Here were ice fields, among which we 
were all dispersed, seeking each the best path to ascend the peak. Mr. 
Preuss attempted to walk along the upper edge of one of these fields, 
which sloped away at an angle of about twenty degrees; but his feet 
slipped from under him, and he went plunging down the plane. A 
few hundred feet below, at the bottom, were some fragments of 
sharp rock, on which he landed ; and though he turned a couple of 
somersets, fortunately received no injury beyond a few bruises. Two 
of the men, Clement Lambert and Descoteaux,*'*' had been taken ill. 

66. This man, called de Couteau in preuss, 44, does not appear in the 
vouchers or in JCF's roster of the party. He does appear, however, in a passage 
deleted from the manuscript draft (note 8, above). A man of this name took 
passage to St. Louis with Maximilian, Prince of Wied-Neuwied, at Fort Pierre 


and laid down on the rocks a short distance below; and at this point 
I was attacked with headache and giddiness, accompanied by vomit- 
ing, as on the day before. Finding myself unable to proceed, I sent 
the barometer over to Mr. Preuss, who was in a gap two or three 
hundred yards distant, desiring him to reach the peak, if possible, 
and take an observation there.*^^ He found himself unable to proceed 
further in that direction, and took an observation, where the barom- 
eter stood at 19.401 ; attached thermometer 50°, in the gap. Carson, 
who had gone over to him, succeeded in reaching one of the snowy 
summits of the main ridge, whence he saw the peak towards which 
all our efforts had been directed, towering eight or ten hundred feet 
into the air above him. In the mean time, finding myself grow rather 
worse than better, and doubtful how far my strength would carry 
me, I sent Basil Lajeunesse, with four men, iDack to the place where 
the mules had been left. 

We were now better acquainted with the topography of the coun- 
try, and I directed him to bring back with him, if it were in any way 
possible, four or five mules, with provisions and blankets. With me 
were Maxwell and Ayot; and after we had remained nearly an hour 
on the rock, it became so unpleasantly cold, though the day was 
bright, that we set out on our return to the camp, at which we all 
arrived safely, straggling in one after the other. I continued ill dur- 
ing the afternoon, but became better towards sundown, when my 
recovery was completed by the appearance of Basil and four men, 
all mounted. The men who had gone with him had been too much 
fatigued to return, and were relieved by those in charge of the 
horses; but in his powers of endurance Basil resembled more a 
mountain goat than a man. They brought blankets and provisions, 
and we enjoyed well our dried meat and a cup of good coffee. We 
rolled ourselves up in our blankets, and with our feet turned to a 
blazing fire, slept soundly until morning. 

August 15. — It had been supposed that we had finished with the 
mountains; and the evening before, it had been arranged that Car- 

in 1834, and brought a shipment of beaver skins down to Liberty, Mo. ( Maxi- 
milian, 24:92-93, 117). In late 1842 or early 1843, a man referred to as 
Michael Des Coteaux was wounded in a fray at Long Point, sometimes called 
McKenzie's Point, near the mouth of the Cheyenne River (A. R. Bonis to 
Andrew Drips, 18 April 1843, MoSHi — Drips Papers). 

67. See preuss, 39-45, for his own account of the climb. He is sardonic, 
as usual. 


son should set out at daylight, and return to breakfast at the Camp 
of the Mules, taking with him all but four or five men, who were to 
stay with me and bring back the mules and instruments. Accordingly, 
at the break of day they set out. With Mr. Preuss and myself re- 
mained Basil Lajeunesse, Clement Lambert, Janisse, and Descoteaux. 
When we had secured strength for the day by a hearty breakfast, we 
covered what remained, which was enough for one meal, with rocks, 
in order that it might be safe from any marauding bird; and, sad- 
dling our mules, turned our faces once more towards the peaks. This 
time we determined to proceed quietly and cautiously, deliberately 
resolved to accomplish our object if it were within the compass of 
human means. We were of opinion that a long defile which lay to 
the left of yesterday's route would lead us to the foot of the main 
peak.*^^ Our mules had been refreshed by the fine grass in the little ra- 
vine at the island camp, and we intended to ride up the defile as far as 
possible, in order to husband our strength for the main ascent. Though 
this was a fine passage, still it was a defile of the most rugged moun- 
tains known, and we had many a rough and steep slippery place to 
cross before reaching the end. In this place the sun rarely shone, 
snow lay along the border of the small stream which flowed through 
it, and occasional icy passages made the footing of the mules very 
insecure, and the rocks and ground were moist with the trickling 
waters in this spring of mighty rivers. We soon had the satisfaction 
to find ourselves riding along the huge wall which forms the central 
summits of the chain. There at last it rose by our sides, a nearly per- 
pendicular wall of granite, terminating 2,000 to 3,000 feet above our 
heads in a serrated line of broken, jagged cones.^'' We rode on 
until we came almost immediately below the main peak, which I 
denominated the Snow Peak, as it exhibited more snow to the eye 
than any of the neighboring summits. Here were three small lakes 
[Titcomb Lakes] of a green color, each of perhaps a thousand yards 
in diameter, and apparently very deep. These lay in a kind of chasm; 
and, according to the barometer, we had attained but a few hundred 
feet above the Island lake. The barometer here stood at 20.450, at- 
tached thermometer 70°. 

68. "The climber who will leave Island Lake and start for Woodrow Wil- 
son [Peak] can follow this route all the way up the Titcomb Valley" (bon- 

NEY & BONNEY, 98). 

69. The west wall of Fremont, Sacagawea, and Helen peaks (bonney & 
BONNEY, 98). 



We managed to get our mules up to a little bench about a hun- 
dred feet above the lakes, where there was a patch of good grass, and 
turned them loose to graze. During our rough ride to this place, 
they had exhibited a wonderful surefootedness. Parts of the defile 
were filled with angular, sharp fragments of rock, three or four and 
eight or ten feet cube; and among these they had worked their way, 
leaping from one narrow point to another, rarely making a false 
step, and giving us no occasion to dismount. Having divested our- 
selves of every unnecessary encumbrance, we commenced the ascent. 
This time, like experienced travellers, we did not press ourselves, but 
climbed leisurely, sitting down so soon as we found breath begin- 
ning to fail. At intervals we reached places where a number of 
springs gushed from the rocks, and about 1,800 feet above the lakes 
came to the snow line. From this point our progress was uninter- 
rupted climbing. Hitherto I had worn a pair of thick moccasins, 
with soles of parfleche; but here I put on a light thin pair, which I 
had brought for the purpose, as now the use of our toes became 
necessary to a further advance. I availed myself of a sort of comb of 
the mountain, which stood against the wall like a buttress, and 
which the wind and the solar radiation, joined to the steepness of the 
smooth rock, had kept almost entirely free from snow. Up this I 
made my way rapidly. Our cautious method of advancing in the 
outset had spared my strength; and, with the exception of a slight 
disposition to headache, I felt no remains of yesterday's illness. In a 
few minutes we reached a point where the buttress was overhanging, 
and there was no other way of surmounting the difficulty than by 
passing around one side of it, which was the face of a vertical preci- 
pice of several hundred feet. 

Putting hands and feet in the crevices between the blocks, I suc- 
ceeded in getting over it, and, when I reached the top, found my 
companions in a small valley below. Descending to them, we con- 
tinued climbing, and in a short time reached the crest. I sprang upon 
the summit, and another step would have precipitated me into an 
immense snow field five hundred feet below. To the edge of this 
field was a sheer icy precipice; and then, with a gradual fall, the 
field sloped of? for about a mile, until it struck the foot of another 
lower ridge. I stood on a narrow crest, about three feet in width, 
with an inclination of about 20° N. 51° E. As soon as I had gratified 
the first feelings of curiosity I descended, and each man ascended in 
his turn, for I would only allow one at a time to mount the unstable 


and precarious slab, which it seemed a breath would hurl into the 
abyss below. We mounted the barometer in the snow of the summit, 
and fixing a ramrod in a crevice, unfurled the national flag to wave 
in the breeze where never flag waved before/" During our morning's 
ascent we had met no sign of animal life except the small sparrow- 
like bird already mentioned. A stillness the most profound and a 
terrible solitude forced themselves constantly on the mind as the 
great features of the place. Here on the summit, where the stillness 
was absolute, unbroken by any sound, and the solitude complete, 
we thought ourselves beyond the region of animated life; but while 
we were sitting on the rock a solitary bee {bromus, the bumble bee) 
came winging his flight from the eastern valley, and lit on the knee 
of one of the men.^^ 

It was a strange place, the icy rock and the highest peak of the 
Rocky Mountains, for a lover of warm sunshine and flowers, and we 
pleased ourselves with the idea that he was the first of his species to 
cross the mountain barrier, a solitary pioneer to foretell the advance 
of civilization. I believe that a moment's thought would have made 
us let him continue his way unharmed, but we carried out the law of 
this country, where all animated nature seems at war; and seizing 
him immediately, put him in at least a fit place, in the leaves of a 
large book, among the flowers we had collected on our way. The 
barometer stood at 18.293, the attached thermometer at 44°, giving 
for the elevation of this summit 13,570 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, 
which may be called the highest flight of the bee. It is certainly the 
highest known flight of that insect. From the description given by 
Mackenzie^" of the mountains where he crossed them, with that of 

70. He is not on Fremont Peak, but probably on one farther north which 
the Bonneys call Woodrow Wilson Peak, just south of Gannett Peak. A party 
of the American Alpine Club climbed the peak in 1951, checking JCF's 
description of his ascent against their own observations, and concluded that 
he could have been on no other peak in the area. The flag, which }CF pre- 
sented to Jessie upon the birth of their daughter Elizabeth, was a special 
variation on the usual stars and stripes. In addition to thirteen stripes and 
twenty-six stars, it bore an American eagle holding arrows and an Indian 
peace pipe in its claws. The flag is now in the Southwest Museum, Los 

71. Bombus species, the bumblebee. 

72. Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1755P-1820) was the first explorer to cross 
the North American continent north of Mexico, making the trip in 1793. The 
French officer of whom JCF speaks may be Gabriel Franchere (1786-1863), 
one of the Astorians who reached the Columbia on the Tonqiun in 1811. He 


a French officer still farther to the north, and Colonel Long's mea- 
surements to the south, joined to the opinion of the oldest traders of 
the country, it is presumed that this is the highest peak of the Rocky 
Mountains." The day was sunny and bright, but a slight shining 
mist hung over the lower plains, which interfered with our view of 
the surrounding country. On one side we overlooked innumerable 
lakes and streams, the spring of the Colorado of the Gulf of Cali- 
fornia; and on the other was the Wind River valley, where were the 
heads of the Yellowstone branch of the Missouri; far to the north, 
we just could discover the snowy heads of the Trois Tetons, where 
were the sources of the Missouri and Columbia rivers; and at the 
southern extremity of the ridge the peaks were plainly visible, 
among which were some of the springs of the Nebraska or Platte 
river. Around us the whole scene had one main striking feature, 
which was that of terrible convulsion. Parallel to its length, the ridge 
was split into chasms and fissures; between which rose the thin lofty 
walls, terminated with slender minarets and columns, which is cor- 
rectly represented in the view from the camp on Island lake. Accord- 
ing to the barometer, the little crest of the wall on which we stood 
was three thousand five hundred and seventy feet above that place, 
and two thousand seven hundred and eighty above the little lakes at 
the bottom, immediately at our feet. Our camp at the Two Hills 
(an astronomical station) bore south 3° east," which, with a bearing 
afterward obtained from a fixed position, enabled us to locate the 
peak. The bearing of the Trois Tetons was north 50° west, and the 

returned by land to Montreal in 1814, crossing the main range of the Rockies 
by way of Athabasca Pass. Franchere's journal was published in French and 
in several English translations, beginning in 1820. Senator Benton, in a speech 
on the Oregon question {Congressional Globe, 2S May 1846), acknowledged 
having read it in French, and the chances are good that JCF had seen it, 
perhaps in the Benton household. The mention of Major Long refers to 
Stephen H. Long's reconnaissance of a part of the Front Range of the Rockies 
in 1820. 

73. An incautious statement, for the next peak to the north is higher, and 
so are dozens of others in the Rockies. JCF's measurement of the peak at 
about 13,500 feet is quite accurate, and it would have been impossible for him 
to detect with the eye the fact that (rannett Peak is — at 13,785 feet — consider- 
ably higher. This is especially true when Woodrow Wilson Peak is ascended 
by the route which JCF used, and from which it appears to tower above 
CJannett. At 14,431 feet, Mount Elbert in central Colorado is the highest peak 
in the Rockies, but there are many more which exceed 14,000 feet. 

74. "This bearing checks with Woodrow Wilson, but not with Fremont 
Peak" (bonney & bonney, 99). 


direction of the central ridge of the Wind River mountains south 
39° east. The summit rock was gneiss, succeeded by syenitic gneiss. 
Syenite and feldspar succeeded in our descent to the snow line, 
where we found a feldspathic granite. I had remarked that the noise 
produced by the explosion of our pistols had the usual degree of 
loudness, but was not in the least prolonged, expiring almost in- 
stantaneously. Having now made what observations our means af- 
forded, we proceeded to descend. We had accomplished an object 
of laudable ambition, and beyond the strict order of our instructions. 
We had climbed the loftiest peak of the Rocky Mountains, and 
looked down upon the snow a thousand feet below, and standing 
where never human foot had stood before, felt the exultation of 
first explorers. It was about 2 o'clock when we left the summit, and 
when we reached the bottom the sun had already sunk behind the 
wall, and the day was drawing to a close. It would have been pleas- 
ant to have lingered here and on the summit longer, but we hurried 
away as rapidly as the ground would permit, for it was an object to 
regain our party as soon as possible, not knowing what accident the 
next hour might bring forth. 

We reached our deposit of provisions at nightfall. Here was not 
the inn which awaits the tired traveller on his return from Mont 
Blanc, or the orange groves of South America, with their refreshing 
juices and soft fragrant air; but we found our little cache of dried 
meat and coflFee undisturbed. Though the moon was bright, the 
road was full of precipices, and the fatigue of the day had been great. 
We therefore abandoned the idea of rejoining our friends, and lay 
down on the rock, and, in spite of the cold, slept soundly. 

August 16.— We left our encampment with the daylight. We saw 
on our way large flocks of the mountain goat looking down on us 
from the cliffs. At the crack of a rifle they would bound off among 
the rocks, and in a few minutes make their appearance on some 
lofty peak, some hundred or a thousand feet above. It is needless to 
attempt any further description of the country; the portion over 
which we travelled this morning was rough as imagination could 
picture it, and to us seemed equally beautiful. A concourse of lakes 
and rushing waters, mountains of rocks naked and destitute of vege- 
table earth, dells and ravines of the most exquisite beauty, all kept 
green and fresh by the great moisture in the air, and sown with 
briUiant flowers, and every where thrown around all the glory of 


most magnificent scenes; these constitute the features of the place, 
and impress themselves vividly on the mind of the traveller. It wsls 
not until 11 o'clock that we reached the place where our animals 
had been left, when we first attempted the mountains on foot. Near 
one of the still burning fires we found a piece of meat, which our 
friends had thrown away, and which furnished us a mouthful — a 
very scanty breakfast. We continued directly on, and reached our 
camp on the mountain lake at dusk. We found all well. Nothing 
had occurred to interrupt the quiet since our departure, and the fine 
grass and good cool water had done much to re-establish our ani- 
mals. All heard with great delight the order to turn our faces home- 
ward; and toward sundown of the 17th, we encamped again at the 
Two Buttes. 

In the course of this afternoon's march, the barometer was broken 
past remedy. I regretted it, as I was desirous to compare it again 
with Dr. Engelman's barometers at St. Louis, to which mine were 
referred ; but it had done its part well, and my objects were mainly 

August 19. — We left our camp on Little Sandy river about 7 in 
the morning, and traversed the same sandy undulating country. The 
air was filled with the turpentine scent of the various artemisias, 
which are now in bloom, and numerous as they are, give much 
gaiety to the landscape of the plains. At 10 o'clock, we stood exactly 
on the divide in the pass, where the wagon road crosses, and descend- 
ing immediately upon the Sweet Water, halted to take a meridian 
observation of the sun. The latitude was 42° 24' 32". 

In the course of the afternoon we saw buffalo again, and at our 
evening halt on the Sweet Water, the roasted ribs again made their 
appearance around the fires, and with them, good humor and laugh- 
ter, and song were restored to the camp. Our coffee had been ex- 
pended, but we now made a kind of tea from the roots of the wild 
cherry tree. 

August 23. — Yesterday evening we reached our encampment at 
Rock Independence, where I took some astronomical observations. 
Here, not unmindful of the custom of early travellers and explorers 
in our country, I engraved on this rock of the Far West a symbol of 
the Christian faith. Among the thickly inscribed names, I made on 
the hard granite the impression of a large cross, which I covered 
with a black preparation of India rubber, well calculated to resist 


the influence of wind and rain. It stands amidst the names of many 
who have long since found their way to the grave, and for whom the 
huge rock is a giant grave stone. 

One George Weymouth was sent out to Maine by the Earl of 
Southampton, Lord Arundel, and others; and in the narrative of 
their discoveries, he says: "The next day, we ascended in our pin- 
nace, that part of the river which lies more to the westward, carrying 
with us a cross — a thing never omitted by any Christian traveller — 
which we erected at the ultimate end of our route." This was in the 
year 1605, and in 1842 I obeyed the feeling of early travellers, and 
left the impression of the cross deeply engraved on the vast rock one 
thousand miles beyond the Mississippi, to which discoverers have 
given the national name of Roc}{ Independence?'' 

In obedience to my instructions to survey the river Platte, if pos- 
sible, I had determined to make an attempt at this place. The India- 
rubber boat was filled with air, placed in the water, and loaded with 
what was necessary for our operations; and I embarked with Mr. 
Preuss and a party of men. When we had dragged our boat for a 
mile or two over the sands, I abandoned the impossible undertaking, 
and waited for the arrival of the party, when we packed up our boat 
and equipage, and at 9 o'clock were again moving along on our land 
journey. We continued along the valley on the right bank of the 
Sweet Water, where the formation, as already described, consists of 
a grayish micaceous sandstone, and fine-grained conglomerate, and 
marl. We passed over a ridge which borders or constitutes the river 
hills of the Platte, consisting of huge blocks sixty or eighty feet cube 
of decomposing granite. The cement which united them was prob- 
ably of easier decomposition, and has disappeared and left them iso- 
late, and separated by small spaces. Numerous horns of the mountain 
goat were lying among the rocks, and in the ravines were cedars, 
whose trunks were of extraordinary size. From this ridge we de- 
scended to a small open plain at the mouth of the Sweet Water, 
which rushed with a rapid current into the Platte, here flowing 
along in a broad, tranquil, and apparently deep stream, which 
seemed, from its turbid appearance to be considerably swollen. I ob- 

75. JCF's political opponents will later use this incident as evidence when 
they "charge" him with being a Roman Catholic during the presidential cam- 
paign of 1856. 


tained here some astronomical observations, and the afternoon was 
spent in getting our boat ready for navigation the next day.^^ 

August 24. — We started before sunrise, intending to breakfast at 
Goat island. I had directed the land party, in charge of Bernier, to 
proceed to this place, where they were to remain, should they find 
no note to apprise them of our having passed. In the event of re- 
ceiving this information, they were to continue their route, passing 
by certain places which had been designated. Mr. Preuss accom- 
panied me, and with us were five of my best men, viz: C. Lambert, 
Basil Lajeunesse, Honore Ayot, Benoist, and Descoteaux. Here ap- 
peared no scarcity of water, and we took on board, with various in- 
struments and baggage, provisions for ten or twelve days. We 
paddled down the river rapidly, for our little craft was light as a 
duck on the water, and the sun had been some time risen, when we 
heard before us a hollow roar, which we supposed to be that of a fall 
of which we had heard a vague rumor, but whose exact locality no 
one had been able to describe to us. We were approaching a ridge, 
through which the river passes by a place called "canon" (pro- 
nounced kanyon), a Spanish word, signifying a piece of artillery, 
the barrel of a gun, or any kind of tube; and which, in this country, 
has been adopted to describe the passage of a river between perpen- 
dicular rocks of great height, which frequently approach each other 
so closely overhead as to form a kind of tunnel over the stream, 
which foams along below, half-choked up by fallen fragments. Be- 
tween the mouth of the Sweet Water and Goat island, there is prob- 
ably a fall of three hundred feet, and that was principally made in 
the caiions before us; as without them, the water was comparatively 
smooth. As we neared the ridge, the river made a sudden turn, and 
swept squarely down against one of the walls of the caiion with a 
great velocity and so steep a descent, that it had to the eye the ap- 
pearance of an inclined plane. When we launched into this, the men 
jumped overboard, to check the velocity of the boat, but were soon 
in water up to their necks, and our boat ran on; but we succeeded in 
bringing her to a small point of rocks on the right, at the mouth of 
the caiion. Here was a kind of elevated sand beach, not many yards 
square, backed by the rocks, and around the point the river swept at 

76. The confluence of the Platte and the Sweetwater is now obscured by 
the waters of the Pathfinder Reservoir. 


a right angle. Trunks of trees deposited on jutting points twenty or 
thirty feet above, and other marks, showed that the water here fre- 
quently rose to a considerable height. The ridge was of the same 
decomposing granite already mentioned, and the water had worked 
the surface, in many places, into a wavy surface of ridges and holes. 
We ascended the rocks to reconnoitre the ground, and from the sum- 
mit the passage appeared to be a continued cataract foaming over 
many obstructions, and broken by a number of small falls. We saw 
nowhere a fall answering to that which had been described to us as 
having twenty or twenty-five feet, but still concluded this to be the 
place in question, as, in the season of floods, the rush of the river 
against the wall would produce a great rise, and the waters reflected 
squarely off, would descend through the passage in a sheet of foam, 
having every appearance of a large fall. Eighteen years previous to 
this time, as I have subsequently learned from himself, Mr. Fitzpat- 
rick, somewhere above on this river, had embarked with a valuable 
cargo of beaver. Unacquainted with the stream, which he believed 
would conduct him safely to the Missouri, he came unexpectedly 
into this caiion, where he was wrecked, with the total loss of his furs. 
It would have been a work of great time and labor to pack our bag- 
gage across the ridge, and I determined to run the canon. We all 
again embarked, and at first attempted to check the way of the boat ; 
but the water swept through with so much violence that we nar- 
rowly escaped being swamped, and were obliged to let her go in the 
full force of the current, and trust to the skill of the boatmen. The 
dangerous places in this canon were where huge rocks had fallen 
from above, and hemmed in the already narrow pass of the river to 
an open space of three or four and five feet. These obstructions raised 
the water considerably above, which was sometimes precipitated 
over in a fall; and at other places, where this dam was too high, 
rushed through the contracted opening with tremendous violence. 
Had our boat been made of wood, in passing the narrows she would 
have been staved ; but her elasticity preserved her unhurt from every 
shock, and she seemed fairly to leap over the falls. 

In this way we passed three cataracts in succession, where, perhaps, 
a hundred feet of smooth water intervened ; and finally, with a shout 
of pleasure at our success, issued from our tunnel into the open day 
beyond. We were so delighted with the performance of our boat, and 
so confident in her powers, that we would not have hesitated to leap 
a fall of ten feet with her. We put to shore for breakfast at some wil- 


lows on the right bank, immediately below the mouth of the canon; 
for it was now eight o'clock, and we had been working since day- 
light, and were all wet, fatigued, and hungry. While the men were 
preparing breakfast, I went out to reconnoitre. The view was very 
limited. The course of the river was smooth, so far as I could see; on 
both sides were broken hills; and but a mile or two below was an- 
other high ridge. The rock at the mouth of the canon was still the 
decomposing granite, with great quantities of mica, which made a 
very glittering sand. 

We re-embarked at 9 o'clock, and in about twenty minutes reached 
the next canon. Landing on a rocky shore at its commencement, we 
ascended the ridge to reconnoitre. Portage was out of the question. 
So far as we could see, the jagged rocks pointed out the course of the 
caiion, on a winding line of seven or eight miles. It was simply a 
narrow, dark chasm in the rock; and here the perpendicular faces 
were much higher than in the previous pass, being at this end two 
to three hundred, and further down, as we afterwards ascertained, 
five hundred feet in vertical height. Our previous success had made 
us bold, and we determined again to run the caiion. Every thing was 
secured as firmly as possible; and, having divested ourselves of the 
greater part of our clothing, we pushed into the stream. To save our 
chronometer from accident, Mr. Preuss took it, and attempted to 
proceed along the shore on the masses of rock, which in places were 
piled up on either side; but, after he had walked about five minutes, 
every thing like shore disappeared, and the vertical wall came 
squarely down into the water. He, therefore, waited until we came 
up. An ugly pass lay before us. We had made fast to the stern of the 
boat a strong rope about fifty feet long; and three of the men clam- 
bered along among the rocks, and with this rope let her down slowly 
through the pass. In several places high rocks lay scattered about in 
the channel; and in the narrows it required all our strength and skill 
to avoid staving the boat on the sharp points. In one of these, the 
boat proved a little too broad, and stuck fast for an instant, while the 
water flew over us; fortunately it was but for an instant, as our 
united strength forced her immediately through. The water swept 
overboard only a sextant and a pair of saddle bags. I caught the sex- 
tant as it passed by me; but the saddlebags became the prey of the 
whirlpools. We reached the place where Mr. Preuss was standing, 
took him on board, and, with the aid of the boat, put the men with 
the rope on the succeeding pile of rocks. We found this passage much 


worse than the previous one, and our position was rather a bad one. 
To go back was impossible; before us the cataract was a sheet of 
foam; and, shut up in the chasm by the rocks, which in some places 
seemed almost to meet overhead, the roar of the water was deafen- 
ing. We pushed off again; but, after making a little distance, the 
force of the current became too great for the men on shore, and two 
of them let go the rope. Lajeunesse, the third man, hung on, and 
was jerked headforemost into the river from a rock above twelve 
feet high; and down the boat shot like an arrow, Basil following us 
in the rapid current, and exerting all his strength to keep in mid 
channel — his head only seen occasionally like a black spot in the 
white foam. How far we went I do not exactly know; but we suc- 
ceeded in turning the boat into an eddy below. " 'Cre Dieu," said 
Basil Lajeunesse, as he arrived immediately after us, "J^ crois bien 
que j'ai nage un demi mile." He had owed his life to his skill as a 
swimmer; and I determined to take him and the two others on 
board, and trust to skill and fortune to reach the other end in safety. 
We placed ourselves on our knees, with the short paddles in our 
hands, the most skilful boatman being at the bow; and again we 
commenced our rapid descent. We cleared rock after rock, and shot 
past fall after fall, our little boat seeming to play with the cataract. 
We became flushed with success and familiar with the danger; and, 
yielding to the excitement of the occasion, broke forth together into 
a Canadian boat song. Singing, or rather shouting, we dashed along; 
and were, I believe, in the midst of the chorus, when the boat struck 
a concealed rock immediately at the foot of a fall, which whirled her 
over in an instant. Three of my men could not swim, and my first 
feeling was to assist them, and save some of our effects; but a sharp 
concussion or two convinced me that I had not yet saved myself. 
A few strokes brought me to an eddy, and I landed on a pile of 
rocks on the left side. Looking around, I saw that Mr. Preuss had 
gained the shore on the same side, about twenty yards below; and a 
little climbing and swimming soon brought him to my side. On the 
opposite side against the wall, lay the boat bottom up; and Lambert 
was in the act of saving Descoteaux, whom he had grasped by the 
hair, and who could not swim ; "Lache pas," said he, as I afterward 
learned, "lache pas, cher frere." "Grains pas," was the reply, "Je 
m'en vais mourir avant que de te lacher." Such was the reply of 
courage and generosity in this danger. For a hundred yards below, 
the current was covered with floating books and boxes, bales of 


blankets, and scattered articles of clothing; and so strong and boil- 
ing was the stream, that even our heavy instruments, which were all 
in cases, kept on the surface, and the sextant, circle, and the long 
black box of the telescope, were in view at once. For a moment, I felt 
somewhat disheartened. All our books; almost every record of the 
journey — our journals and registers of astronomical and barometri- 
cal observations — had been lost in a moment. But it was no time to 
indulge in regrets; and I immediately set about endeavoring to save 
something from the wreck. Making ourselves understood as well as 
possible by signs, for nothing could be heard in the roar of waters, 
we commenced our operations. Of every thing on board, the only 
article that had been saved was my double-barrelled gun, which 
Descoteaux had caught, and clung to with drowning tenacity. The 
men continued down the river on the left bank. Mr. Preuss and my- 
self descended on the side we were on; and Lajeunesse, with a pad- 
dle in his hand, jumped on the boat alone, and continued down the 
canon. She was now light, and cleared every bad place with much 
less difficulty. In a short time, he was joined by Lambert; and the 
search was continued for about a mile and a half, which was as far 
as the boat could proceed in the pass. 

Here the walls were about five hundred feet high, and the frag- 
ments of rocks from above had choked the river into a hollow pass, 
but one or two feet above the surface. Through this and the inter- 
stices of the rock, the water found its way. Favored beyond our ex- 
pectations, all of our registers had been recovered, with the exception 
of my journals, which contained the notes and incidents of travel, 
and topographical descriptions, a number of scattered astronomical 
observations, principally meridian altitudes of the sun, and our 
barometrical register west of Laramie. Fortunately, our other jour- 
nals contained duplicates of the most important barometrical ob- 
servations which had been taken in the mountains. These, with a 
few scattered notes, were all that had been preserved of our meteor- 
ological observations. In addition to these, we saved the circle; and 
these, with a few blankets, constituted every thing that had been 
rescued from the waters. 

The day was running rapidly away, and it was necessary to reach 
Goat island, whither the party had preceded us before night. In 
this uncertain country, the traveller is so much in the power of 
chance, that we became somewhat uneasy in regard to them. Should 
anything have occurred, in the brief interval of our separation, to 


prevent our rejoining them, our situation would be rather a desperate 
one. We had not a morsel of provisions, our arms and ammunition 
were gone; and we were entirely at the mercy of any straggling 
party of savages, and not a little in danger of starvation. We there- 
fore set out at once in two parties. Mr. Preuss and myself on the left, 
and the men on the opposite side of the river. Climbing out of the 
caiion, we found ourselves in a very broken country, where we were 
not yet able to recognize any locality. In the course of our descent 
through the canon, the rock, which at the upper end was of the de- 
composing granite, changed into a varied sandstone formation. The 
hills and points of the ridges were covered with fragments of a yel- 
low sandstone, of which the strata were sometimes displayed in the 
broken ravines which interrupted our course, and made our walk 
extremely fatiguing. At one point of the caiion, the red argillaceous 
sandstone rose in a wall of five hundred feet, surmounted by a 
stratum of white sandstone, and in an opposite ravine a column of 
red sandstone rose in form like a steeple, about one hundred and 
fifty feet high. The scenery was extremely picturesque, and not- 
withstanding our forlorn condition, we were frequently obliged to 
stop and admire it. Our progress was not very rapid. We had 
emerged from the water half naked, and on arriving at the top of 
the precipice, I found myself with only one moccasin. The fragments 
of rock made walking painful, and I was frequently obliged to stop 
and pull out the thorns of the cactus, here the prevailing plant, and 
with which a few minutes' walk covered the bottom of my feet. 
From this ridge the river emerged into a smiling prairie, and de- 
scending to the bank for water, we were joined by Benoist. The rest 
of the party were out of sight, having taken a more inland route. We 
crossed the river repeatedly, sometimes able to ford it, and some- 
times swimming; climbed over the ridges of two more canons, and 
towards evening reached the cut, which we here named the Hot 
Spring Gate. On our previous visit in July we had not entered this 
pass, reserving it for our descent in the boat; and when we entered 
it this evening, Mr. Preuss was a few hundred feet in advance. 
Heated with the long march, he came suddenly upon a fine bold 
spring, gushing from the rock, about ten feet above the river. Eager 
to enjoy the crystal water, he threw himself down for a hasty 
draught, and took a mouthful of water almost boiling hot. He said 
nothing to Benoist, who laid himself down to drink, but the steam 
from the water arrested his eagerness, and he escaped the hot 


draught. We had no thermometer to ascertain the temperature, but 
I could hold my hand in the water just long enough to count two 
seconds."^ There are eight or ten of these springs, discharging them- 
selves by streams large enough to be called runs. A loud hollow 
noise was heard from the rock, which I supposed to be produced 
by the fall of the water. The strata immediately where they issue 
is a fine white and calcareous sandstone, covered with an incrusta- 
tion of common salt. Leaving this Thermopylae of the West, in a 
short walk, we reached the red ridge which has been described as 
lying just above Goat island. Ascending this we found some fresh 
tracks and a button which showed that the other men had already 
arrived. A shout from the man who first reached the top of the 
ridge, responded to from below, informed us that our friends were 
all on the island, and we were soon among them. We found some 
pieces of buffalo standing around the fire for us, and managed to get 
some dry clothes among the people. A sudden storm of rain drove 
us into the best shelter we could find, where we slept soundly, after 
one of the most fatiguing days I have ever experienced. 

August 25. — Early this morning Lajeunesse was sent to the 
wreck for the articles which had been saved, and about noon we 
left the island. The mare which we had left here in July had much 
improved in condition, and she served us well again for some time, 
but was finally abandoned at a subsequent part of the journey. At 
10 in the morning of the 26th we reached Cache camp, where we 
found every thing undisturbed. We disinterred our deposit, arranged 
our carts which had been left here on the way out, and travelling a 
few miles in the afternoon, encamped for the night at the ford of 
the Platte. 

August 27. — At midday we halted at the place where we had 
taken dinner on the 27th of July. The country, which when we 
passed up looked as if the hard winter frosts had passed over it, 
had now assumed a new face, so much of vernal freshness had been 
given to it by the late rains. The Platte was exceedingly low, a mere 
line of water among the sand bars. We reached Laramie fort on the 

77. "About one mile above Goat Island I found a hot spring under the 
rocks through which the Platte breaks its course. When I noticed it, I was 
pleased at the chance of enjoying a clear cold drink; the water of the Platte 
is always turbid. But how quickly did I withdraw my mouth! I did not tell 
Benoit, who followed me; why should he not burn his lips a little, too?" 

(PREUSS, 57). 


last day of August, after an absence of forty-two days, and had the 
pleasure to find our friends all well. The fortieth day had been 
fixed for our return, and the quick eyes of the Indians, who were 
on the lookout for us, discovered our flag as we wound among the 
hills. The fort saluted us with repeated discharges of its single piece, 
which we returned with scattered volleys of our small arms, and felt 
the joy of a home reception in getting back to this remote station, 
which seemed so far ofiF as we went out. 

On the morning of the 3d of September we bade adieu to our 
kind friends at the fort, and continued our homeward journey down 
the Platte, which was glorious with the autumnal splendor of in- 
numerable flowers in full and brilliant bloom. On the warm sands, 
among the helianthi [sunflower], one of the characteristic plants, 
we saw great numbers of rattlesnakes, of which five or six were 
killed in the morning's ride. We occupied ourselves in improving 
our previous survey of the river; and, as the weather was fine, 
astronomical observations were generally made at night and at noon. 

We halted for a short time in the afternoon of the 5th with a vil- 
lage of Sioux Indians, some of whose chiefs we had met at Laramie. 
The water in the Platte was extremely low, in many places the 
large expanse of sands, with some occasional stunted trees on the 
banks, gave it the air of the seacoast, the bed of the river being 
merely a succession of sandbars, among which the channel was 
divided into rivulets a few inches deep.''^ We crossed and recrossed 
with our carts repeatedly and at our pleasure, and whenever an 
obstruction barred our way, in the shape of precipitous bluffs that 
came down upon the river, we turned directly into it, and made our 
way along the sandy bed, with no other inconvenience than the fre- 
quent quicksands, which greatly fatigued our animals. Disinterring 
on the way the cache which had been made by our party when they 

78. During this dull retracing of the outward trail, Preuss made an assess- 
ment of their trip: "What has he really done. ... He has established some 
latitudes and two longitudes — that is all. Collecting plants and minerals is 
good and praiseworthy, but it is not part of the commission. If he had re- 
turned south via the Arkansas, or north via the [Big] Horn and the Yellow- 
stone, we could make an entirely different map. . . . He cannot quite 
manage the sextant which is left . . ." (preuss, 65). But after he reaches 
Grand Island, JCF will be covering new ground, at least for him, and prob- 
ably doing as much justice to his commission as if he were striking out into 
other territory. He is also laboring within a time schedule which Preuss does 
not fully understand. 


ascended the river, we reached without accident, on the evening of 
the 12th of September, our old encampment of the 2d of July, at 
the junction of the forks. Our cache of the barrel of pork was 
found undisturbed, and proved a seasonable addition to our stock of 
provisions. At this place I had determined to make another attempt 
to descend the Platte by water, and accordingly spent two days in 
the construction of a bull boat. Men were sent out on the evening 
of our arrival, the necessary number of bulls killed, and their skins 
brought to the camp. Four of the best of them were strongly sewed 
together with buffalo sinew, and stretched over a basket frame of 
willow. The seams were then covered with ashes and tallow, and 
the boat left exposed to the sun for the greater part of one day, 
which was sufficient to dry and contract the skin, and make the 
whole work solid and strong. It had a rounded bow, was eight feet 
long and five broad, and drew with four men about four inches 
water. On the morning of the 15th we embarked in our hide boat, 
Mr. Preuss and myself, with two men. We dragged her over the 
sands for three or four miles, and then left her on a bar, and aban- 
doned entirely all further attempts to navigate this river. The names 
given by the Indians are always remarkably appropriate; and cer- 
tainly none was ever more so than that which they have given to this 
stream, "the Nebraska, or Shallow river." Walking steadily the re- 
mainder of the day, a little before dark we overtook our people at 
their evening camp, about twenty-one miles below the junction. 
The next morning we crossed the Platte, and continued our way 
down the river bottom on the left bank, where we found an ex- 
cellent, plainly beaten road. 

On the 18th we reached Grand island, which is fifty-two miles 
long, with an average breadth of one mile and three quarters. It has 
on it some small eminences, and is sufficiently elevated to be secure 
from the annual floods of the river. As has been already remarked, 
it is well timbered, with an excellent soil, and recommends itself 
to notice as the best point for a military position on the Lower 

On the 22d we arrived at the village of the Grand Pawnees, on the 
right bank of the river, about thirty miles above the mouth of the 
Loup fork. They were gathering in their corn, and we obtained 
from them a very welcome supply of vegetables. 

The morning of the 24th we reached the Loup fork of the Platte. 
At the place where we forded it, this stream was four hundred and 


thirty yards broad, with a swift current of clear water, in this re- 
spect differing from the Platte, which has a yellow muddy color, 
derived from the limestone and marl formatiofi, of which we have 
previously spoken. The ford was difficult, as the water was so deep 
that it came into the body of the carts, and we reached the opposite 
bank after repeated attempts, ascending and descending the bed of 
the river in order to avail ourselves of the bars. We encamped on 
the left bank of the fork, in the point of land at its junction with the 
Platte. During the two days that we remained here for astronomical 
observations, the bad weather permitted us to obtain but one good 
observation for the latitude, a meridian latitude of the sun, which 
gave for the latitude of the mouth of the Loup fork, 41° 22' U". 

Five or six days previously, I had sent forward C. Lambert, 
with two men, to Bellevue, with directions to ask from Mr. P. 
Sarpy, the gentleman in charge of the American Company's estab- 
lishment at that place, the aid of his carpenters in constructing a 
boat, in which I proposed to descend the Missouri. On the afternoon 
of the 27th we met one of the men,'^ who had been despatched by 
Mr. Sarpy with a welcome supply of provisions and a very kind 
note, which gave us the very gratifying intelligence that our boat 
was in rapid progress. On the evening of the 30th we encamped in 
an almost impenetrable undergrowth on the left bank of the Platte, 
in the point of land at its confluence with the Missouri, three hun- 
dred and fifteen miles, according to our reckoning, from the junc- 
tion of the forks, and five hundred and twenty from Fort Laramie.^*^ 
From the junction we had found the bed of the Platte occupied 
with numerous islands, many of them very large, and all well tim- 
bered; possessing, as well as the bottom lands of the river, a very 
excellent soil. With the exception of some scattered groves on the 
banks, the bottoms are generally without timber. A portion of these 
consist of low grounds, covered with a profusion of fine grasses, and 
are probably inundated in the spring; the remaining part is high 
river prairie, entirely beyond the influence of the floods. The 
breadth of the river is usually three quarters of a mile, except where 
it is enlarged by islands. That portion of its course which is occu- 
pied by Grand island has an average breadth, from shore to shore, 

79. Menard, according to preuss, 75. 

80. JCF is now at the future site of Plattsmouth, Nebr., and the cowbells 
he will hear tomorrow morning will be sounding from setdements in what is 
now Mills County, Iowa. 


of two and a half miles. The breadth of the valley, with the various 
accidents of ground — springs, timber, and whatever I have thought 
interesting to travellers and settlers — you will find indicated on the 
larger map which accompanies this report.^^ 

October 1. — I rose this morning long before daylight, and heard 
with a feeling of pleasure the tinkling of cow bells at the settlements 
on the opposite side of the Missouri. Early in the day we reached 
Mr. Sarpy's residence; and, in the security and comfort of his hos- 
pitable mansion, felt the pleasure of being again within the pale 
of civilization. We found our boat on the stocks; a few days sufficed 
to complete her; and, in the afternoon of the 4th, we embarked on 
the Missouri. All our equipage, horses, carts, and the materiel 
of the camp, had been sold at public auction at Bellevue. The 
strength of my party enabled me to man the boat with ten oars, re- 
lieved every hour; and we descended rapidly. Early on the morning 
of the 10th, we halted to make some astronomical observations at 
the mouth of the Kanzas, exactly four months since we had left the 
trading post of Mr. Cyprian Chouteau, on the same river, ten miles 
above. On our descent to this place, we had employed ourselves in 
surveying and sketching the Missouri, making astronomical observa- 
tions regularly at night and at midday, whenever the weather per- 
mitted. These operations on the river were continued until our 
arrival at the city of St. Louis, Missouri, on the 17th; and will be 
found, imbodied with other results, on the map^" and in the 
appendices which accompany this report. At St. Louis, the sale of 
our remaining effects was made; and, leaving that city by steam- 
boat on the 18th, I had the honor to report to you at the city of 
Washington on the 29th of October. 

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant, 

}. C. Fremont, 
2d Lieut. Corps of Topographical Engineers. 

81. See Map 2 (Map Portfolio). 

82. Ibid. 







The collection of plants submitted to me for examination, though 
made under unfavorable circumstances, is a very interesting con- 
tribution to North American Botany. From the mouth of the Kan- 
zas river to the "Red Buttes" on the North fork of the Platte, the 
transportation was effected in carts; but from that place to and from 
the mountains, the explorations were made on horseback, and by 
such rapid movements, (which were necessary, in order to ac- 
complish the objects of the expedition) that but litde opportunity 
was af][orded for collecting and drying botanical specimens. Be- 
sides, the party was in a savage and inhospitable country, sometimes 
annoyed by Indians, and frequently in great distress from want of 
provisions; from which circumstances, and the many pressing duties 
that constantly engaged the attention of the commander, he was 
not able to make so large a collection as he desired. To give some 
general idea of the country explored by Lieut. Fremont, I recapitu- 
late, from his report, a brief sketch of his route. The expedition left 
the mouth of the Kanzas on the 10th of June, 1842, and proceeding 
up that river about one hundred miles, then continued its course 
generally along the "bottoms" of the Kanzas tributaries, but some- 
times passing over the upper prairies. The soil of the river bottoms 
is always rich, and generally well timbered; though the whole re- 
gion is what is called a prairie country. The upper prairies are an 
immense deposite of sand and gravel, covered with a good, and, very 
generally, a rich soil. Along the road, on reaching the little stream 
called Sandy creek (a tributary of the Kanzas), the soil became 

83. Torrey's catalogue is printed verbatim, after his preface, using his own 
binomials and common names. For modern binomials and, usually, com- 
mon names, consult the index under each species. 


more sandy. The rock-formations of this region are hmestone and 
sandstone. The Amorpha canescens was the characteristic plant; it 
being in many places as abundant as the grass. 

Crossing over from the waters of the Kanzas, Lieut. F. arrived at 
the Great Platte, two hundred and ten miles from its junction with 
the Missouri. The valley of this river, from its mouth to the great 
forks, is about four miles broad, and three hundred and fifteen miles 
long. It is rich, well-timbered, and covered with luxuriant grasses. 
The purple Liatris scariosa, and several Asters, were here conspicu- 
ous features of the vegetation. I was pleased to recognise among the 
specimens collected near the forks, the fine large-flowered Asclepias, 
that I described many years ago in my account of James's Rocky 
Mountain plants, under the name of A. speciosa, and which Mr. 
Geyer also found in Nicollet's expedition. It seems to be the plant 
subsequently described and figured by Sir W. Hooker, under the name 
of A. DoHglasii. On the Lower Platte, and all the way to the Sweet 
Water, the showy Cleome integrijolia occurred in abundance. From 
the Forks to Laramie river, a distance of about two hundred miles, 
the country may be called a sandy one. The valley of the North 
fork is without timber; but the grasses are fine, and the herbaceous 
plants abundant. On the return of the expedition in September, 
Lieut. Fremont says the whole country resembled a vast garden; 
but the prevailing plants were two or three species of Heliajithus 
(sunflower). Between the main forks of the Platte, from the junc- 
tion, as high up as Laramie's fork, the formation consisted of marl, 
a soft earthv limestone, and a granite sandstone. At the latter place, 
that singular leguminous plant, the Ketitrophyta motitana of Nut- 
tall was first seen, and then occurred, at intervals, to the Sweet Water 
river. Following up the North fork, Lieut. Fremont arrived at the 
mouth of the Sweet Water river, one of the head waters of the 
Platte. Above Laramie's fork to this place, the soil is generally sandy. 
The rocks consist of limestone, with a variety of sandstones (yellow, 
gray, and red argillaceous), with compact gypsum or alabaster, and 
fine conglomerates. 

The route along the North fork of the Platte afforded some of 
the best plants in the collection. The Seneclo rapifolia, Nutt., oc- 
curred in many places, quite to the Sweet Water; Lippia (Zapania) 
cufieijoUa (Torr. in James's plants, only known before from Dr. 
[Edwin] James's collection;) Cercocarpus parvifolius, Nutt.; Erio- 


gonum parvifolium and cocspitosum, Nutt.; Shepherdia argentea, 
Nutt., and Geranium Vremontiif'^ a new species (near the Red 
Buttes), were found in this part of the journey. In saHne soils, on the 
Upper Platte, near the mouth of the Sweet Water, were collected 
several interesting chenopodiace^, one of which was first discovered 
by Dr. James, in Long's Expedition; and although it was considered 
as a new genus, I did not describe it, owing to the want of the ripe 
fruit. It is the plant doubtfully referred by Hooker, in his Flora 
Boreali Americana, to Batis. He had seen the male flowers only. As 
it is certainly a new genus, I have dedicated it to the excellent com- 
mander of the expedition, as a well-merited compliment for the ser- 
vices he has rendered North American botany. 

The Sweet Water valley is a sandy plain, about one hundred and 
twenty miles long, and generally about five miles broad; bounded 
by ranges of granitic mountains, between which, the valley forma- 
tion consists, near the Devil's gate, of a grayish micaceous sand- 
stone, with marl and white clay. At the encampment of August 
5th-6th, there occurred a fine white argillaceous sandstone, a coarse 
sandstone or puddingstone, and a white calcareous sandstone. A few 
miles to the west of that position, Lieut. F. reached a point where 
the sandstone rested immediately upon the granite, which thence- 
forward, along his line of route, alternated with a compact mica 

Along the Sweet Water, many interesting plants were collected, as 
may be seen by an examination of the catalogue ; I would, however, 
mention the curious (Enothera Nuttallii, Torr. and Gr.; Eurotia 
lanata, Mocq. (Diotis lanata, Pursh), which seems to be distinct 
from E. ceratoides; Thermopsis montana, Nutt.; Gilia pulchella, 
Dougl.; Senecio spartioides, Torr. and Gr.; a new species, and four 
or five species of wild currants {Ribes irriguum, Dougl., &c.) Near 
the mouth of the Sweet Water was found the Planiago eriophora, 

84. Geranium jremontii as published by Torrey was a nomen nudum, and 
thus illegitimate by International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature. When the 
name was validated by Asa Gray in Memoirs of the American Academy, ser. 
2, 4 (1849):26, a Fremont collection numbered "42" was cited without local- 
ity. G. N. and F. F. Jones {Rhodora, 45 [1943]:44) suggested when reviewing 
the genus that the Fremont specimen came from "probably farther north and 
west" of Lieut. J. W. Abert's collection, also cited by Gray, taken in the 
Raton Mountains, New Mexico, 7 Aug. 1846. However, this report (p. 292) 
gives the "Black Hills" as the source of Fremont's collection and so there may 
have been a second numbered specimen sent to Gray. 


Torr., a species first described in my Dr. James's Rocky Mountain 
Plants. On the upper part, and near the dividing ridge, were col- 
lected several species of Castilleja; Fentstemon micrantha, Nutt.; 
several Gentians; the pretty little Androsace occidentalis, Nutt.; 
SoUdago incana, Torr. and Gr.; and two species of Eriogonum, one 
of which was new. 

On the 8th of August, the exploring party crossed the dividing 
ridge or pass, and found the soil of the plains at the foot of the 
mountains, on the western side, to be sandy. From Laramie's fork 
to this point, different species of artemisia were the prevailing and 
characteristic plants; occupying the place of the grasses, and filling 
the air with the odor of camphor and turpentine. Along Little 
Sandy, a tributary of the Colorado of the West, were collected a new 
species of Fhaca (P. digitata), and Parnassia fimbriata. 

On the morning of the 10th of August, they entered the defiles 
of the Wind River mountains, a spur of the Rocky Mountains or 
Northern Andes, and among which they spent about eight days. On 
the borders of a lake, embosomed in one of the defiles, were collected 
Sedum Rhodiola, DC. (which had been found before, south of 
Kotzebue's sound, only by Dr. James) ; Senecio hydrophilus, Nutt.; 
Vaccinium uliginosum; Betula glandulosa, and B. occidentalis, 
Hook.; Eleagnus argentea, and Shepherdia Canadensis. Some of the 
higher peaks of the Wind River mountains rise 1,000 feet above the 
limits of perpetual snow. Lieut. Fremont, attended by four of his 
men, ascended one of the loftiest peaks on the 15th of August. On 
this he found the snow line 12,500 feet above the level of the sea. 
The vegetation of the mountains is truly Alpine, embracing a con- 
siderable number of species common to both hemispheres, as well as 
some that are peculiar to North America. Of the former, Lieut. Fre- 
mont collected Phleum alpinum; Oxyria reniformis; Veronica 
alpina; several species of Salix; Carex atrata; C. panicea; and, im- 
mediately below the line of perpetual congelation, Silene acaulis and 
Polemonium coeruleum, (^ Hook. Among the alpine plants peculiar 
to the western hemisphere, there were found Oreophila myrtifolia, 
Nutt.; Aquilegia cocrtdea, Torr.; Pedictdaris surrecta, Benth.; Pul- 
monaria ciliata, James; Silene Drummondii, Hook.; Menziesia 
empetrijormis, Potentilla gracilis, Dougl.; several species of Pinus; 
Frasera speciosa. Hook.; Dodecatheofi dentatum, Hook.; Phlox 
muscoides, Nutt.; Senecio Fremontii, n. sp., Torr. and Gr.; four or 
five Asters, and Vaccinium myrtilloides, Mx.; the last seven or eight 


very near the snow line. Lower down the mountain were found 
Arnica angustifolia, Vahl; Senecio triangularis, Hook.; S. subnudus, 
DC; Macrorhynchus troximoides, Torr. and Gr.; Helianthella uni- 
flora, Torr. and Gr.; and Linosyris viscidiflora, Hook. 

The expedition left the Wind River mountains about the 18th of 
August, returning by the same route as that by which it ascended, 
except that it continued its course through the whole length of the 
Lower Platte, arriving at its junction with the Missouri on the 1st 
of October. 

As the plants of Lieut. Fremont were under examination while 
the last part of the Flora of North America was in the press, nearly 
all the new matter relating to the Compositae was inserted in that 
work. Descriptions of a few of the new species were necessarily 
omitted, owing to the report of the expedition having been called 
for by Congress before I could finish the necessary analyses and 
comparisons. These, however, will be inserted in the successive 
numbers of the work to which I have just alluded. 

John Torrey. 
New York, March, 1843. 



Clematis Virginiana (Linn.) Valley of the Platte. June, July. 
Ranunculus sceleratus (Linn.) Valley of the Sweet Water river. Au- 
gust 18-20. 
R. Cymhalaria (Pursh). Upper Platte. July 31, August. 
Aquilegia cccrulea (Torr.) Wind river mountains. August 13-16. 
Actcea rubra (Bigel.) Upper Platte. August 26-31. 
Thalictrum Cornuti (Linn.) Platte. 
T. megacarpum, n. sp. Upper Platte. August 26-31. 

Menispermum Canadense (Linn.) Leaves only. On the Platte. 



Berberis Aquijolium (Torr. and Gr.) Wind River mountains. Au- 
gust 13-16. 


Argemone Mexicana /3 albifiora (DC.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 


Nasturtium palustre (DC.) Black Hills of the Platte. July 26-Au- 

Erysimum cheiranthoides (Linn.) Black Hills. July 23. 
E. asperum (Nutt.) South fork of the Platte. July 4. 
Pachypodium (Thelypodium, Endl. gen., p. 876), integrifolium 

(Nutt.) North fork of the Platte. September 4. Var. with longer 

pods. With the preceding. 
Vesicaria didymocarpa (Hook.) Leaves only. North fork of the 

Platte, above the Red Buttes, July 30. 
Braya n. sp. Wind River mountains, near the limits of perpetual 

snow. August 15. 
Lepidium ruderale (Linn.) On the Platte. June 29. 


Cleome integri folia (Torr. and Gr.) From the Lower Platte nearly 

to the mountains. June 29, July 2, August 21. 
Polanisia trachysperma, P (Torr. and Gr.) Black Hills of the Platte, 

July 23. 


Polygala alba (Nutt.) P. Beyrichii, (Torr. and Gr.) Forks of the 
Platte. July 2. 



Paniassia fimbriata (Banks.) Little Sandy creek, defiles of the Wind 
River mountains. Aug. 8. 


Arenaria congesta (Nutt.) Highest parts of the Wind River moun- 
tains. Aug. 13-16. 

Silene Drummondii (Hook.) With the preceding. 

S. acaulis (Linn.) Wind River mountains, at the limits of perpetual 


Talinum paruiflorum (Nutt.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 


Linum rigidum (Pursh). North fork of the Platte. July 8. 
L. perenne (Linn.) Black Hills to the Sweet Water of the Platte. 
Aug. 2-31. 


Geranium Fremontii, n. sp. Black Hills. Aug. 26-31. 


Oxalis stricta (Linn.) On the Kansas. June. 

Rhus trilobata (Nutt.) Red Buttes. July 29. 



Malva pedata (Torr. and Gr.) Big Blue river of the Kansas. June 21. 
M. involucrata (Torr. and Gr.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 

Sida coccinea (DC.) Little Blue river to the South fork of the Platte. 

June 22-July 4. 


Vitis riparia (Michx.) Grand island of the Platte. Sept. 19. 


Negmido aceroides (Moench.) On the lower part of the Platte. 


Oreophila myrtifolia (Nutt.) Summit of the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 13-14. 


Ceanothus vdutinus (Dougl.) With the preceding. 

C. Americanus, var. sanguineus. C. sanguineus (Pursh). On the 

C. mollissimus, n. sp. Near the Kansas river. June 19. 


Lathyrus linearis (Nutt.) On the Platte, from its confluence with the 

Missouri, to Fort Laramie. Sept. 2-30. 
Amphicarpoea monoica (Torr. and Gr.) North fork of the Platte. 

Sept. 4. 
Apios tuberosa (Moench.) Forks of the Platte. Sept. 13. 
Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Pursh). From near the Kansas river to the 

Black Hills of the Platte. June 21-July 25. 


Psoralea floribunda (Nutt.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 

P. campestris (Nutt.?) and a more glabrous variety. With the pre- 
ceding. July 2. 

P. lanceolata (Pursh). Black Hills of the Platte. July 24. 

P. argophylla (Pursh). Little Blue river. June 23. 

P. tenuifiora, (Pursh). (no flowers). Forks of the Platte. Sept. 12. 

Petalostemon violaceum (Michx.) Big Blue river of the Kansas, &c. 
June 21. 

P. candidum (Michx.) Red Buttes. July 29. 

Amorpha fruticosa (Linn.) From the Lower Platte to the moun- 
tains. August 8-Sept. 19. 

A. canescens (Nutt.) Kansas and the Lower Platte rivers. June 19- 
Sept. 20. 

Lespedeza capitata (Michx.) Mouth of the Platte. Sept. 30. 

Desmodium acuminatum (DC.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. 
June 22. 

Astragalus gracilis (Nutt.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 

A. mollissimus (Torr.) Valley of the Platte. June 29. 

A. Hypoglottis (Linn.) Sweet Water of the Platte. Aug. 5. 

Oxytropis Lambertii (Pursh). Big Blue river of the Kansas to the 
forks of the Platte. June 20-July 2. 

O. Plattensis (Nutt.?) (no flowers). Goat island of the Upper Platte. 
July 31. 

Phaca astragali na (DC.) Highest summits of the Wind River moun- 
tain. Aug. 15. 

P. elegans (Hook.) var.? Goat island of the Upper Platte. July 31. 

P. {Orophaca) digitata, n. sp. Little Sandy river. Aug. 8. 

P. longifolia (Nutt.) (leaves only). Wind River mountains. Aug. 

Kentrophyta montana (Nutt.) Laramie river to the Sweet Water. 
July 14-Aug. 5. 

Lupinus leucophyllus (Lindl.) Wind River mountains, and Sweet 
Water of the Platte. Aug. 4-21. 

L. ornatus (Dougl.) L. leucopsis (Agardh.) With the preceding. 

Baptisia leucatitha, (Torr. and Gr.) Kansas river. 

Thermopsis montana (Nutt.) Sweet Water river. Aug. 5. 

Cassia chamaecrista (Linn.) Mouth of the Platte. Sept 30. 

Schrankja uncinata (Willd.) Kansas and Platte rivers. June 19- 

Darlingtonia brachypoda (DC.) On the Platte. Sept. 17. 



Cerasus Virginiafia (Torr. and Gr.) Upper North Fork of the 

Platte. July 30. 
Cercocarpus parvifoUus (Nutt.) Bitter creek, North Fork of the 

Platte. July 22. 
Purs hi a tridentata (DC.) Sweet Water river, &c. Aug. 12-Sept. 
Geum Virginianum (Linn.) Kansas river. June 20. 
Sibbaldia procumbens (Linn.) Wind River mountains, near perpet- 
ual snow. Aug. 13-14. 
Potentilla gracilis (Dougl.) With the preceding. 
P. diversifolia (Lehm.) Sweet Water of the Platte to the mountains. 

Aug. 4-15. 
P. sericea P. glabrata (Lehm.) With the preceding. 
P. fruticosa (Linn.) With the preceding. 
P. Anserina (Linn.) Black Hills of the Platte. July 26-31. 
P. arguta (Pursh). Little Blue river of the Kansas, and Black Hills 

of the Platte. June 23-Aug. 28. 
Rubus strigosus (Michx.) Defiles of the Wind River mountains. 

Aug. 12-17. 
Amdanchier diversifolia, var. alnifolia, (Torr. and Gr.) Sweet 

Water of the Platte. August 5. 
Rosa blanda (Ait.) Lower Platte. 
R. foliolosa (Nutt.) var. leiocarpa. With the preceding. 


Epilobium coloratum (Muhl.) Black Hills of the Platte to the Sweet 
Water river. Aug. 4-31. 

E. spicatum (Lam.) From the Red Buttes to the Wind River moun- 
tains. Aug, 13-31. 

(Enothera albicatdis (Nutt.) North fork of the Platte. July 14. 

CE. Missouriensis (Sims.) Big Blue river of the Kansas. June 19-20. 

(E. trichocalyx (Nutt.) North fork of the Platte. July 30. 

(E. serrulata (Nutt.) On the Kansas and Platte. June-July 14. 

(E. rhombipetala (Nutt.) On the Platte. September 18-20. 

(E. biennis (Linn.) Black Hills to the Sweet Water river. July 23- 
August 4. 

(E. {Taraxia) Nuttallii (Torr. and Gr.) Upper part of the Sweet 


(E. speciosa (Nutt.) Big Blue river of the Kanzas. June 19-20. 
(E. Drummondii (Hook.?) Black Hills. July 26. 
Gaura coccinea (Nutt.) Var. ? Little Blue river of the Kanzas, and 
south fork of the Platte. June 26-July 4. 


Mentzelia nuda (Torr. and Gr.) North fork of the Platte. July 14. 


Rihes cereum (Lindl.) Sweet Water of the Platte. August 2-4. 

R. lacustre (Poir.) With the preceding. /5. leaves deeply lobed. R. 

echinatum (Dougl.) Perhaps a distinct species. 
R. irriguum (Dougl.) With the preceding. 


Opiintia Missouriensis (DC.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 


Sediim Rhodiola (DC.) On a lake in Wind River mountains. Au- 
gust 12-17. 


Heracletitn lanatum (Michx.r) Leaves only. The leaves are more 
glabrous than in the ordinary form of the plant. Alpine region of 
the Wind River mountains. 

Polyt(£?iia NuttalUi (DC.) On the Kanzas. June 20. 

Sium? incisu?72, n. sp. Stem sulcate; segments of the leaves distant, 
deeply incised or pinnatified; the lower teeth or divisions often 
elongated and linear.— North fork of the Platte. July 12. 

Edosmia Gairdneri (Torr. and Gr.) Without fruit. 

Cicnta macidata (Linn.) Lower Platte. 

Musemum tenuijolium (Nutt.) Alpine region of the Wind River 



Comus stolo?iifera (Michx.) On a lake in the Wind River moun- 
tains. August 12-17. 
C. circinata (L'Her.) On the Platte. 


Symphoricarpus occidefitalis (R. Brown). North fork of the Platte. 

July 10-Aug. 31. 
S. vulgaris (Michx.) Defiles of the Wind River mountains. August 



Galium boreale (Linn.) Upper part of the north fork of the Platte. 
August 12-31. 


V ernonia fasciculata (Michx.) On the Platte. 

Liatris scariosa (Willd.) Lower part of the Platte. Sept. 27. 

L. spicata (Willd.) North fork of the Platte. Sept. 4. 

L. squarrosa, var. intermedia (DC.) A small form of the plant. On 
the Platte. 

L. punctata (Hook.) Black Hills of the Platte. Aug. 29. 

Brickellia grandiflora (Nutt.) North fork of the Platte. 

Aster ifitegrifolius (Nutt.) Base of the Wind River mountains. 

A. adscendens (Lindl.) Wind River Mountains. Var. Fremontii. 
With the preceding, the highest summits to the limits of per- 
petual snow. Aug. 16. 

A. laevis (Linn.) North fork of the Platte. 

A. Novi-Belgii (Linn.) Sweet Water of the Platte. August 22. 

A. cordifolius (Linn.) Lower Platte. 

A. multiflorus, P. (Torr. and Gr.) Upper Platte, &c. 

A. jalcatus (Lindl.) Black Hills to the Sweet Water. July 30-Aug. 

A. laxifolius (Nees.) On the Platte, from its mouth to the forks. 
Sept. 12-30. 

A. oblongifolius (Nutt.) Lower Platte, &c. 


A. Novce-Afiglice (Linn.) Lower Platte to the Wind River moun- 
tains. Aug. 18-Sept. 24. 

A. Andmus (Nutt.) Near the snow hne of the Wind River moun- 
tains. Aug. 16. 

A. glacialis (Nutt.) With the preceding. 

A. salsuginosus (Richards.) With the preceding. 

A. elegans (Torr. and Gr.) Wind River mountains. 

A. glaucus (Torr. and Gr.) With the preceding. 

Dieteria viscosa (Nutt.) On the Platte. 

D. coronopifolia (Nutt.) With the preceding. 

D. pulverulenta (Nutt.) Near D. sessiliflora. With the preceding. 
Erigeron Cariadense (Linn.) On the Platte, from near its mouth to 

the Red Buttes. Latter part of September to July 30. 

E. Bellidiastrum (Nutt.) On the Platte. 

E. macranthum (Nutt.) With the preceding. 

E. glabellum (Nutt.) With the preceding. 

E. strigosum (Muhl.) With the preceding. 

Gutierrezia Euthamicc (Torr. and Gr.) Laramie river, upper north 

fork of the Platte. Sept. 3. 
Solidago rigida (Linn.) North fork of the Platte. 
S. Missouriensis (Nutt.) Fort Laramie, north fork of the Platte. 

July 22, to the mountains. 
S. speciosa (Nutt.) Upper Platte. 
S. Virga-aurea (Linn.) var. multiradiata, (Torr. and Gr.) Wind 

River mountain, from the height of 7,000 feet to perpetual snow. 
S. incana (Torr. and Gr.) Sweet Water river. 
S. gigantea (Linn.) var. /?. From the Platte to the mountains. 
Linosyris graveolens (Torr. and Gr.) Sweet Water river. Aug. 20. 
L. fiscidi flora (Hook.) Upper Platte. 
Aplopappus spmulosus (DC.) Fort Laramie, north fork of the 

Platte. Sept. 3. 
Grindelia squarrosa (Dunal). Upper north fork of the Platte, and on 

the Sweet Water. July 22-Aug. 21. 
Chrysopsis hispida (Hook.) On the Platte. 

C. mollis (Nutt.) With the preceding. Too near C. foliosa, (Nutt.) 
Iva axillaris (Pursh). Sweet Water river. Aug. 3. 
Franseria discolor (Nutt.) Near the Wind River mountains. 
Lepachys columnaris (Torr. and Gr.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. 

June 26. 
Balsamorrhiza sagittata (Nutt.) Wind River mountains. 


Heliafithus petiolaris (Nutt.) Black Hills of the Platte. July 26. 

H.Maximiliani (Schrad.) With the preceding. 

Helianthella utii flora (Torr. and Gr.) Wind River mountains. 

Coreopsis tinctoria (Nutt.) On the Platte. 

Cosmidium gracile (Torr. and Gr.) Upper Platte. 

Bidens connata (Muhl.) With the preceding. 

Hymenopappus corymhosus (Torr. and Gr.) With the preceding. 

Actinella grandifiora (Torr. and Gr.) n. sp. Wind River mountains. 

Achillea Millefolium (Linn.) A. lanosa. (Nutt.) Upper Platte to 
the mountains. 

Artemisia biennis (Willd.) On the Platte. 

A. cana (Pursh). Without flowers. With the preceding. 

A. tridentata (Nutt.) On the Sweet Water, near the mountains. 

A. filifolia (Torr.) South fork of the Platte, and north fork, to Lara- 
mie river. July 4-Sept. 3. 

A. Canadensis (Michx.) With the preceding. 

A. Ludoviciana, (Nutt.) Black Hills of the Platte. July 26. 

A. frigida (Willd.) Black Hills to the mountains. 

A. Lewisii (Torr. and Gr. ?) No flowers. On the Platte. 

Stephanomeria runcinata (Nutt.) Upper Platte. 

Gnaphalium uliginosum. (Linn.) Var. foliis angustioribus. Sweet 
Water river. 

G. palustre (Nutt.) ^. (Torr. and Gr.) With the preceding. 

Artiica an gusti folia (Vahl.) A. fulgens, (Pursh). Defiles of the Wind 
River mountains, from 7,000 feet and upwards. August 13-14. 

Senecio triangularis (Hook.) P. (Torr. and Gr.) With the preced- 

S. subnudus (DC.) With the preceding. 

S. Fremontii (Torr. and Gr.) n. sp. Highest parts of the mountains, 
to the region of perpetual snow. Aug. 15. 

S. rapifolius (Nutt.) North fork of the Platte and Sweet Water. 

S. lanceolatus (Torr. and Gr.) n. sp. With the preceding. 

S. hydrophilus (Nutt.) On a lake in the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 12-17. 

S. spartioides (Torr. and Gr.) n. sp. Sweet Water river. Aug. 21. 

Cacalia tuberosa (Nutt.) Upper Platte. 

S. filijolius (Nutt.) /^. Fremontii, (Torr. and Gr.) Lower Platte. 

Tetradymia inermis (Nutt.) Sweet Water river, from its mouth to 
the highest parts of the Wind River mountains. 

Cirsium altissimum (Spreng.) Lower Platte. 


Crepis glauca (Hook.) Upper Platte. 

Macrorhynchus {Stylopappus) troximoides (Torr. and Gr.) Defiles 
of the Wind River mountains. Aug. 13-14. 

Mulgedium pulchdlum (Torr. and Gr.) Black Hills of the Platte. 
July 25-31. 

Lygodesmia juncea (Don). Upper Platte. 

Troximoji pari/ifiorum (Nutt.) Sweet Water river, near the moun- 


Lobelia spicata (Lam.) On the Lower Platte. June 28. 
L. siphilitica (Linn.) North fork of the Platte. Sept. 4. 


Campanula rotundifolia (Linn.) Lower Platte. 

Specularia amplexicauUs (DC.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. 


Phyllodoce empetriformis (D. Don). Defiles of the Wind River 
mountains. Aug. 13-16. 

Vaccinium myrtilloides (Hook.) Wind River mountains, in the vi- 
cinity of perpetual snow. Aug. 15. 

V. uliginosum (Linn.) With the preceding. 

Artostaphylos Uva-ursi (Spreng.) On a lake in the mountains. Aug. 


Dodecatheon dentatum (Hook.) Defiles of the Wind River moun- 
tains. Aug. 13-16. 
Androsace occidentalis (Nutt.) Sweet Water river. Aug. 5. 
Lysimachia ciliata (Linn.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 
Glaux mantima (Linn.) Upper North fork of the Platte. July 31. 



Orthocarpus luteus (Nutt.) Sweet Water river. Aug. 5. 

M'lmiilus alsinoides (Benth.) Defiles of the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 13-16. 

M. Lewisii (Pursh). With the preceding. 

Castilleja pallida (Kunth). Sweet Water river. Aug. 8. 

C. miniata (Benth.) Wind River mountains. Aug. 13-16. There are 
two or three other species of this genus in the collection, which I 
have not been able to determine. 

Veronica alpiiia /?. (Hook.) Alpine region of the Wind River moun- 

?entstemon albidum (Nutt.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 

P. ccsruleum (Nutt.) South fork of the Platte. July 4. 

P. micranthum (Nutt.) Sources of the Sweet Water, near the moun- 
tains. Aug. 7. 

Pedicularis surrecta (Benth.) Defiles of the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 13-16. 

Gerardia longifolia (Nutt.) Lower Platte. July 22. 


Orobanche fascictdata (Nutt.) South fork of the Platte. July 4. 


Monarda fistulosa (Linn.) On the Platte. 
Teucrium Canadense (Linn.) With the preceding. 
Lycopiis sinuatus (Ell.) With the preceding. 
Stachys aspera (Michx.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 
Scutellaria galericulata (Linn.) North of the Platte. July 10. 
Mentha Canadensis (Linn.) With the preceding. 
Salvia azurea (Lam.) Kansas river and forks of the Platte. June 
19-29, July 2. 


Lippia cunei folia, Zapania cuneifolia (Torr.! in ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. 
N. York, 2. p. 234.) N. fork of the Platte. July 12. 


Verbena stricta (Vent.) With the preceding. 
V. hastata (Linn.) With the preceding. 
V. bracteata (Michx.) With the preceding. 


Pulmonaria ciliata (James; Torr. in ann. Lye. N. York, 2. p. 224.) 

Defiles in the Wind River mountains. Aug. 13-15. 
Onostnodium molle (Michx.) On the Platte. June 29. 
Batschia Gmelini (Michx.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 22. 
Myosotis glomerata (Nutt.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 


Eutoca sericea (Lehm.) Wind River mountains! 

Phacelia leucophylla, n. sp. White plant strigosely canescent; leaves 
elliptical, petiolate entire; racemes numerous, scorpioid, densely 
flowered.— Goat Island, upper North fork of the Platte. July 30. 
Perennial. — Stems branching from the base. Leaves about two 
inches long, and 6-8 lines wide; radical and lower cauline ones on 
long petioles; the others nearly sessile. Spikes forming a terminal 
crowded sort of panicle. Flowers sessile, about 3 lines long. Sepals 
strongly hispid. Corolla one-third longer than the calyx; the lobes 
short and entire. Stamens much exserted ; filaments glabrous. Style 
2-parted to the middle, the lower part hairy. Ovary hispid, incom- 
pletely 2-celled, with 2 ovules in each cell. Capsule, by abortion, 
one-seeded; seed oblong, strongly punctate. Nearly related to P. 
integrifolia (Torr.) ; but differs in the leaves being perfectly entire, 
the more numerous spikes, one-seeded capsules, as well as in the 
whitish strigose pubescence of the whole plant. 


Phlox muscoides (Nutt.) Immediately below the region of perpetual 

snow, on the Wind River mountains. Aug. 15. 
P. Hoodii (Richards.) North fork of the Platte. July 8. 
P. pilosa (Nutt.) Big Blue river of the Kansas. June 20. 


Polemonium caruleum (Linn., Hook.) Red Buttes on the Upper 

N. fork of the Platte. P humile (Hook.) Highest parts of the 

mountains, near perpetual snow. Aug. 13-15. 
Gilia {Cantua) Ion gi flora (Torr.) Sand Hills of the Platte. Sept. 16. 
G. pulchella (Dougl.) Upper part of the Sweet Water, near the 

mountains. Aug. 7-20. 
G. incofispicua (Dougl.?) Goat Island, upper N. fork of the Platte. 

July 30. This differs from the Oregon plant in its fleshy, simply 

pinnatifid leaves, with ovate, obtuse segments. 


Calystegia septum (R. Br.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 

Ipomoca leptophylla, n. sp. Stems branching from the base, prostrate, 
glabrous, angular; leaves lanceolate-linear, very acute, entire, at- 
tenuate at the base into a petiole; peduncles 1-3-flowered; sepals 
roundish-ovate, obtuse with a minute mucro. — Forks of the Platte 
to Laramie river. July 4-Sept. 3. Imperfect specimens of this plant 
were collected about the sources of the Canadian, by Dr. James, in 
Long's expedition; but they were not described in my account of 
his plants. The root, according to Dr. James, is annual, producing 
numerous thick prostrate, but not twining, stems, which are two 
feet or more in length. The leaves are from two to four inches 
long, acute at each end, strongly veined and somewhat coriaceous. 
Peduncles an inch or more in length, those towards the extremity 
of the branches only 1-flowered; the lower ones bearing 2-3, and 
sometimes 4 flowers, which are nearly the size of those of Caly- 
stegia sepium, and of a purplish color. Sepals appressed, about five 
lines long. Corolla campanulate — funnel form, the tube much 
longer than the calyx. Stamens inserted near the base of the co- 
rolla; filaments villous at the base, anthers oblong-linear, large. 
Style as long as the stamens; stigma 2-lobed; the lobes capitate. 
Ovary 2-celled, with two ovules in each cell. 


Nycterium luteum (Donn cat.) South fork of the Platte. July 4. 


Physalis pubescens (Willd.) Upper North fork of the Platte. July 23. 
P. pumila (Nutt.) With the preceding. 


Gentiana arctophila P densiflora (Griseb. ? in Hook. fl. Bor. — Am. 
2. p. 61.) Sweet Water of the Platte. Aug. 4. 

G. (vffinis (Griseb.) North fork of the Platte. Sept. 9. 

G. Pneumonanthe (Linn.) Laramie river to Little Sandy creek in 
the mountains. July 12-Aug. 8. 

G. Fremontii, n. sp. Stem branched at the base; branches 1-flowered; 
leaves ovate, cuspidate, cartilaginous on the margin, erect; corolla 
funnel-form ; plicae small, slightly 2-toothed ; capsule ovate, at length 
entirely exserted on its thick stipe. — ^Wind River mountains. — 
Annual. Branches several, 2-3 inches long, of nearly equal length. 
Leaves about three lines long, with a strong whitish cartilaginous 
border, shorter than the internodes. Flowers as large as those of 
G. prostrata, pentamerous. Calyx two-thirds the length of the co- 
rolla; the teeth about one-third the length of the tube. Plicae of the 
coralla scarcely one-third as long as the lanceolate lobes. Stamens 
included; anthers oblong, somewhat cordate at the base. Capsule 
in maturity, and after dehiscence (in which state all our specimens 
were collected), exserted quite beyond the corolla, and, with its 
long stipe, resembling a style with a large bilamellate stigma. 
None of the capsules contained any seeds. This species is nearly re- 
lated to G. prostrata (Haenk.) and G. humilis (Stev.), but the 
former has spatulate obtuse recurved leaves, and the latter entire 
plicae, which are nearly the length of the corroUa. In G. humilis, 
and in the allied G. squarrosa (Ledeb.) the capsule is exserted 
after discharging the seeds. 

Swertia perennis, ^ obtusa (Hook.) From Laramie river to the Big 

Frasera speciosa, (Hook.) Defiles of the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 13-14. 

Lisianthus Russelianus (Hook.) Lower Platte to the Forks. July- 


Apocynum cannabinum (Linn.) On the Platte. 



Asdepias speciosa (Torr., in ann. Lye. N. York, 2. p. 218. — A. 
Douglasii, Hook. fl. Bor.— Am. 2 p. 53. t. 142.) Forks of the Platte. 
July 2. Collected also by Mr. Nicollet in his Northwestern expedi- 
tion. Hooker's plant differs in no essential characters from my A. 
speciosa, collected by Dr. James in Long's first expedition. 

A. verticillata (Linn.) Small variety. With the preceding. 

A. tuherosa (Linn.) Kansas river. June 19. 

Anantherix viridis (Nutt.) Big Blue river of the Kansas. June 20. 

Acerates longijolia (Ell.) Polyotus longifolia. (Nutt.) With the 

A. angustijoVms. Polyotus angustifolius. (Nutt.) With the preceding. 

Fraxinus platycarpa (Michx.) Leaves only. Lower Platte. 


Plantago eriopoda (Torr. in ann. Lye. N. York, 2, p. 237.) Mouth of 

the Sweet Water. July 31. 
P. gnaphaloides (Nutt.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 24. 


Chenopodium zosterijolium (Hook.) Platte? 

C. Album (Linn.) North fork of the Platte. July 12. 

Olione canescens (Mocq. Chenop. p. 74.) Atriplex canescens. (Nutt.) 

Upper north fork of the Platte. July 26. 
Cycloloma platyphylla (Mocq. 1. c. p. 18.) Kochia dentata, (Willd.) 

North fork of the Platte. Sept. 4. 
Sueda mantima (Mocq. 1. c. p. 127.) With the preceding. 
Eurotia lanata (Mocq. 1. c. p. 81.) Diotis lanata, (Pursh). Red Buttes 

to the mountains. Aug. 18-25. 
Fremontia, n. gen. Flowers diclinous, monoecious &? dioicous, het- 

eromorphous. Stam. Fl. in terminal aments. Scales eccentrically 

peltate, on a short stipe, angular, somewhat cuspidate upward. 

Stamens 2-3^ under each scale, naked, sessile; anthers oblong. 


Pist. Fl. solitary, axillary. Perigonium closely adhering to the 
lower half of the ovary, the border entire, nearly obsolete, but in 
fruit enlarging into a broad horizontal angular and undulate 
wing. Ovary ovate; styles thick, divaricate; stigmas linear. Fruit a 
utricle, the lower two-thirds covered with the indurated calyx, 
compressed. Seed vertical; integument double. Embryo flat-spiral 
(2-3 turns) green; radicle inferior; albumen none. 
F. vermicularis. Batis? vermicularis, (Hook.) Fl. Bor. Amer. 2. p. 
128. Upper north fork of the Platte, near the mouth of the Sweet 
Water. July 30. A low, glabrous, diffusely branched shrub, clothed 
with a whitish bark. Leaves alternate, linear, fleshy and almost 
semiterete, 6-12 lines long and 1-2 lines wide. Staminate aments 
about three-fourths of an inch long, cylindrical, at first dense, and 
composed of closely compacted angular scales, covering naked an- 
thers. Anthers very deciduous. Fertile flowers in the axils of the 
rameal leaves. Calyx closely adherent, and at first with only an ob- 
scure border or limb, but at length forming a wing 3-4 lines in 
diameter, resembling that of Salsola. This remarkable plant, which 
I dedicate to Lieutenant Fremont, was first collected by Dr. James 
about the sources of the Canadian, (in Long's expedition) but it 
was omitted in my account of his plants, published in the Annals 
of the Lyceum of Natural History. It is undoubtedly the Batis? 
vermicularis of Hooker, (1. c.) collected on the barren grounds of 
the Oregon river by the late Mr. Douglas, who found it with only 
the staminate flowers. We have it now from a third locality, so 
that the plant must be widely diffused in the barren regions to- 
wards the Rocky Mountains. It belongs to the sub-order Spiro- 
lobeae of Meyer and Mocquin, but can hardly be referred to either 
the tribe Suaedinae or to Salsolae, differing from both in its dicli- 
nous heteromorphous flowers, and also from the latter in its flat- 
spiral, not cochleate embryo. 


Oxybaphus nyctaginea (Torr. in James' Rocky mountain plants.) 
= Calymenia nyctaginea (Nutt.) Kansas river, June 20. 

Abronia mellijera (Dougl.) North fork of the Platte, July 7-12. 

A. {Tripterocalyx) micranthum, n. sp. Viscid and glandularly pubes- 
cent; leaves ovate, undulate, obtuse, acute at the base, petiolate; 


perianth funnel form, 4-lobed at the summit, 3-4 androus; ache- 
nium broadly 3-winged.— Near the mouth of the Sweet Water 
river. Aug. 1. Annual. Stem diffusely branched from the base, be- 
ginning to flower when only an inch high; the branches of the 
mature plant above a foot long. Leaves 1-1| inch in length; 
petioles about as long as the lamina. Heads axillary. Involucre 5- 
leaved, 8-14-flowered ; leaflets ovate, acuminate. Perianth colored 
(purplish) 3-4 lines long; lobes semi-ovate, obtuse. Stamens in- 
serted in the middle of the tube, unequal ; anthers ovate, sagittate 
at the base. Ovary oblong, clothed with the 3-winged base of the 
calyx; style filiform; stigma filiform-clavate, incurved. Mature 
achenium about 7 lines long and 4 wide, the wings broad, nearly 
equal, membranaceous and strongly reticulated. Seed oblong. Em- 
bryo conduplicate, involving the deeply 2-parted mealy albumen ; 
radicle linear-terete; inner cotyledon abortive! outer one oblong, 
foliaceous, concave, as long as the radicle. This interesting plant 
differs from its congeners in its funnel-form perianth, 3-4 androus 
flowers, and broadly 3-winged fruit, but I have not been able to 
compare it critically with other species of Abronia. It may prove 
to be a distinct genus. 


Polygonum Persicana (Linn.) North fork of the Platte. Sept. 4. 

P. aviculare (Linn.) With the preceding. 

P. amphibium (Linn.) Sweet Water river. August 4. 

P. viviparum (Linn.) Black Hills. July 26. 

Rumex salicijolius (Weinn.) With the preceding. 

Oxyria renijormis (Hill.) Alpine region of the Wind River moun- 
tains. August 13-16. 

Eriogofium ovali folium (Nutt.) Horse-shoe creek, upper north fork 
of the Platte. July 22. 

E. co£spitosum (Nutt.) With the preceding. 

E. umbellatum (Torr.) in ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. N. York, 2, p. 241. 
Sweet Water river, Aug. 7. 

E. Fremontii, n. sp. With the preceding. 

E. annuum (Nutt.) North fork of the Platte. September 4. 



Shepherdia argentea (Nutt.) "Grains de boeuf." Upper north fork of 
the Platte, from the Red Buttes to the mouth of the Sweet Water. 
Aug. 24-28. 

S. Canadensis (Nutt.) On a lake in the Wind River mountains. 
August 12-17. 

Eleagnus argenteus (Pursh). With the preceding. 


Euphorbia marginata (Pursh). Forks of the Platte. September 11. 

E. polygonifolia (Linn). South Fork of the Platte. July 4. 

E. corollata (Linn.) On the Kanzas. 

E. obtusata (Pursh). Little Blue river of the Kanzas. July 23. 

Pilinophytum capitatum (Klotsch in Weigem. arch. Apr. 1842.) 
Croton capitatum (Michx.) Forks of the Platte. 

Hendecandra? (Esch.) multi flora, n. sp.; annual canescent, with stel- 
late pubescence, dioecious; stem somewhat diffusely and trichoto- 
mously branched; leaves ovate-oblong, petiolate, obtuse, entire; 
staminate flowers on crowded axillary and terminal compound 
spikes. — Laramie river, north fork of the Platte. Sept. 3-11. — About 
a foot high. Fructiferous plant unknown. With larger leaves. Forks 
of the Platte. July 2. This seems to be the same as the plant of 
Drummond's Texan Collection, III., No. 266. 


Salix longifolia (Willd.) On the Platte. 

S. Muhlenbergii (Willd.) With the preceding. Several other species 
exist in the collection — some from the Platte, others from the 
mountains; but I have had no time to determine them satis- 

Populus tremuloides (Michx.) Lake in the Wind River mountains. 

?. angustifolia (Torr. in ann. Lye. N. Hist, of New York, 2, p. 249.) 
Sweet Water river. Aug. 21. 

P. monilifera (Ait.) Lower Platte. 



Ulmus fulva (Michx.) Lower Platte. 

Celtis crassijoUa (Nutt.) With the preceding. 


Betula glandulosa (Michx.) On a lake in the Wind River mountains. 

Aug. 12-17. 
B. occidentalis (Hook.) With the preceding. 


Finns r'lgida (Linn.) Lower Platte. Without cones. Leaves in threes, 

about 3 inches long. 
P. undetermined. Defiles of the Wind River mountains. Aug. 13-14. 

Between P. Strobus and P. Lambertiana. Leaves in 5's, 1^-2 inches 

long, rigid. No cones. 
P. {Abies) alba (Michx.) With the preceding. 
P. near Balsamea. With the preceding. Leaves only. 
Jufiiperus Virginiana (Linn.) Lower Platte. 

Sagittaria sagittifolia (Linn.) On the Kansas. 


Platanthera leucophcea (Lindl.) Black Hills. July 27. 

P. hyperborea (R. Br.) Laramie river to the Red Buttes. Aug. 26-31. 

Spiranthes cernua (Rich.) Sweet Water river. Aug. 7. 

Aplectrum hyemale (Nutt.) On the Platte. June 29. 


Sisyrinchium anceps (Linn.) North fork of the Platte. July 12. 

Iris Missouriensis (Nutt. in Jour. Acad. Phil. 7, p. 58.) In fruit. 


Sweet Water river. Aug. 3. Rhizoma very thick. Leaves narrow, 
rigid, as long as the scape. Scape nearly naked, 2-flowered, terete, 
10 inches high. Capsules oblong obtusely triangular. Flowers not 


Yucca angustifolia (Sims). Laramie river. July 14. 

Allium reticulatum (Fras.) Defiles in the Wind River mountains. 

Aug. 12-17. 
Smilacina stellata (Desf.) From the Laramie river to the Red Buttes. 

Aug. 26-31. 


Zigadenus glaucus (Nutt.) Sweet Water river. Aug. 


f uncus echinatus (Muhl.) North fork of the Platte. Sept. 4. 


Tradescantia Virginica (Linn.) and a narrow-leaved variety. Kansas 
and Platte. 


Carex jestucacea (Schk.) On the Kansas. June. 

C. aurea (Nutt.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 22. 

C. panicea (Linn.) Alpine region of the Wind River mountains, 

near perpetual snow. Aug. 15. 
C. atrata (Linn.) With the preceding. 


Spartina cynosuroides, (Willd.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 


Aristida pallejis, (Pursh). On the Platte. June 29. 

Agrostis Michauxiana (Trin.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 

Phleum alpinum, (Linn.) Alpine region of the Wind River moun- 
tains. Aug. 13-14. 

Bromus ciliatus (Linn.) On the Platte. June-Aug. 

Festuca ovina (Linn.) Alpine region of the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 13-14. 

Festuca nutans, (Willd.) On the Kansas. 

Foa laxa (Haenke.) With the preceding. 

F. crocata (Michx.?) With the preceding. Spikelets 2-flowered. 

F. nervata (Willd.) On the Kansas. 

Koeleria cristata (Pers.) Big Blue river of the Kansas, and on the 
Platte as high as Laramie river. June 20-July 22. 

Deschampsia ccespitosa, (Beauv.) Alpine region of the Wind River 
mountains. Aug. 13-14. 

Andropogon scoparius (Michx.) Lower Platte. 

A. nutans (Linn.) Laramie river, North fork of the Platte. Sept. 3-4. 

Hordeum jubatum (Ait.) Forks of the Platte. July 2. 

Elymus Virginicus (Linn.) Big Blue river of the Kansas. June 20. 

E. Canadensis (Linn.) Little Blue river of the Kansas. June 22. 

Bec/{mannia erucijormis (Jacq.) North fork of the Platte. July 22. 


Equisetum arvense (Linn.) On a lake in the Wind River mountains. 
Aug. 12-17. 


Hypopeltis obtusa (Torr. compend. hot. N. States, p. 380, 1826.) 
Aspidium obtusum (Willd.) Woodsia Perriniana (Hook, and 
Grev. Icon. Fil. I. t. 68.) Physematium (Kaulf.) obtusum, (Hook, 
fl. Bor.— Am. 2, p. 259.) On the Platte. 



The maps which accompany this report are on Flamsteed's modi- 
fied projection, and the longitudes are referred to the meridian of 

For the determination of astronomical positions, we were pro- 
vided with the following instruments: 
One telescope, magnifying power 120. 
One circle, by Gambey, Paris. 
One sextant, by Gambey, Paris. 
One sextant, by Troughton. 
One box chronometer, No. 7,810, by French. 
One Brockbank pocket chronometer. 

One small watch with a light chronometer balance, No. 4,632, 
by Arnold & Dent. 
The rate of the chronometer 7,810, is exhibited in the following 


"New York, M«)/ 5, 1842. 

"Chronometer No. 7,810, by French, is this day at noon— 
"Slow of Greenwich mean time — — 11' 4'' 
"Fast of New York mean time — — ^h 45' V 

"Loses per day — — — — — 2 Ao 

"Arthur Stewart, 
"74 Merchants' Exchange." 

An accident among some rough ground in the neighborhood of 
the Kanzas river, strained the balance of this chronometer (No. 
7,810,) and rendered it useless during the remainder of the cam- 
paign. From the 9th of June to the 24th of August inclusively, the 
longitudes depend upon the Brockbank pocket chronometer; the 
rate of which, on leaving St. Louis, was fourteen seconds. The rate 
obtained by observations at Fort Laramie, 14".05, has been used in 

From the 24th of August until the termination of the journey. No. 
4,632 (of which the rate was 35".79) was used for the sdme purposes. 


The rate of this watch was irregular, and I place but little confidence 
in the few longitudes which depend upon it, though, so far as we 
have any means of judging, they appear tolerably correct. 








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The elevations which have been given in the course of the pre- 
ceding report, are founded upon the annexed barometrical observa- 
tions, and it is scarcely necessary to say are offered only as the best 
indications we have. The barometers were compared with those of 
Dr. G. Engelman, of St. Louis, Missouri, whose observations are 
given for a corresponding period. The following is the result of 
forty comparative observations of three barometers instituted by him 
from May 22d, to May 29th, 1842, at St. Louis. Range of barometers 
during that period 0" .400, temperature 60° to 75°. Barometer E, as 
observed for and noted in the journal of the academy: 

= Fremont's Troughton (T.)— 0" .136 = Fremont's Carey (C.) 
—0" .178. 
Range in the differences: 

Mean E = Fremont's Troughton (T.)— 0" .136 = Fremont's Carey (C.)— 0" .178 
Minimum = " "— 0".116= " " 0" .167 

Maximum = " " —0" .150 = " " 0" .190 

Range = " " 0" .034 = " " 0" .023 

In the annexed observations, the barometers, Troughton and 
Carey, are designated respectively by the letters T. and C. In calcu- 
lation the observations at the upper stations were referred to the 
single corresponding observations for the relative period of time at 
the lower station. It would perhaps have been better to refer to the 
mean of the observations for the month at the lower station. In cal- 
culation, the tables used were those of Bessel and of Oltmanns, as 
given in Humboldt. 
















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The Expedition 

of 1843-44 
to Oregon and California 

62. John Torrey to Asa Gray 

Princeton, March 26th 1843. 
My dear friend 

Fremont has at last communicated to me his plans for the ensuing 
season. He is to leave Washington about the 5th of April — & before 
the 1st of May he expects [to] be beyond the western frontier of Mis- 
souri. He "proposes crossing the mountains to the south of the Great 
Pass — range along their western bases — visit the mountainous region 
of the Flat Head Country — probably go as far down as Fort Van- 
couver — & return by the heads of the Missouri." This will do! I have 
already given him directions for collection & preserving specimens 
& he promises to pay attention to what we, of course, consider the 
main object of the expedition.^ 

Yours affectionately, 

John Torrey 

ALS, RC (MH-G). Addressed, "Prof. A. Gray, Harvard University, Cam- 
bridge, Mass." 

1. A few weeks later Torrey wrote Cray again, expressing a fear that his 
catalogue of Fremont's plants would be poorly printed. "I have only received 
one proof sheet, & that was as bad as it could be. The whole style of the thing 
was changed from my Mss. I wished it set up like my Rocky Mo[untain] 
paper but they made it purely Etonian, & employed a very fine type. The 
extra copies that I requested have not been sent to me & if they are as bad 
[as] I fear they will be I shall destroy the whole" (rodgers, 158). 

63. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topi Engineers 
Washington April 22 1843 

Allow me to call your attention to certain vouchers which your 

accounts require, namely the vouchers from the Chouteaus, and the 

one of the last payment to Mr. Nicollet. These must be forwarded 

before you start on your expedition to the West. Very Respectfully 

Sir Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 

Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:225). 

64. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau Topographical Engs. 
Washington April 26th 1843 

It appears to me to be no more than a just tribute to your exertions 
that I should express my great personal as well as official satisfaction 
with your report which has now been printed, reflecting credit alike 
upon your good taste as well as intelligence. It is by efforts like 
these that officers elevate their own character while they also render 
eminent public services; and while they also contribute to the stand- 
ing and usefulness of their particular branch of service. 

Perseverance in the course you have commenced cannot fail to 
lead to distinction and to impress you with the gratifying reflection 
that while your labors bring credit to yourself they also diffuse it to 
others. Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 
CI. C. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:227). 


65. Fremont to Stephen Watts Kearny 

[ca. 8 May 1843] 








(1 1 


Oregon Territory. 









Carriage complet 














Pounds of artille 



Required May 8, 1843 









Sir: I have been ordered to make an exploration, military and geo- 
graphical, principally to connect, on the line of communication 
usually travelled, the frontiers of Missouri with the mouth of the 
Columbia. In the course of the service I shall be led into countries in- 
habited by hostile Indians, so that it is absolutely necessary to the 
performance of this service that my party, consisting of about thirty 
men, be furnished with every means of defence which may conduce 
to its safety. 

I have accordingly made the above requisition for the necessary 
arms, which I trust you will be able to issue. 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. C. Fremont, 
2d Lieut. Topographical Engineers. 

Printed in "Message of the President communicating the correspondence re 
the mountain howitzer taken by Lieutenant Fremont on the expedition to the 
Oregon," Senate Doc. 14, 28th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 432. While the requisi- 
tion is undated it must have been near 8 May, for on that date, Stephen Watts 
Kearny (1794-1848), who was in command of the Third Military Depart- 
ment with headquarters at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, and who was 
a friend of the Benton family, ordered Capt. William H. Bell, commanding 
the St. Louis Arsenal, to issue the requisition as Fremont was "to leave 
to-morrow and therefore has not time to hear from Washington." He assured 


Bell that he (Kearny) assumed "the whole responsibility." Bell obeyed the 
"positive order" reluctantly and two days later wrote his superior in the 
Ordnance Office in Washington, Lieut. Col. George Talcott, and asked for his 
sanction "to this issue" and noted that "if in this matter I have erred, I hope 
the colonel will perceive that it has been in consequence of being placed in a 
dilemma of some difficulty and that it has been from a want of anything 
but a respect for the order and regulations of my department." 

66. P. Chouteau, Jr., and Company 
to Employees of the Company 

Saint Louis 10 May 1843 
To ANY Gentlemen associated with our House or 


This will be presented by Lieut. }. C. Fremont of the U. S. Top- 
ographical Engineers on a tour to the Pacific Ocean in the service of 
the Government whom we beg to recommend in a particular man- 
ner to your kindness & attention — and to whom we request you will 
extend such aid & assistance as may from circumstances be nec- 

As the pursuits of the Gentleman are for the public good, we trust 
you will not hesitate to comply with his wishes & cheerfully attend 
to the wants & requirements of Lieut. Fremont in case of need. Very 
truly yours &c. 

P. Choteau Junr. & Co. 


67. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl Engineers 
Washington May 15th 1843 

Understanding that you are probably yet at St. Louis, I must call 
your attention to my letter of the 22d ulto. in reference to certain 
vouchers & again to repeat the injunction of this office in reference 


to the limit of the expenditures of your expedition, as I understand 
from good authority that this amount will be sufficient. Very Re- 
spectfully Your Obt. Servt., 

J. }. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:266). 

68. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Duplicate to Fort Leavenworth 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington, May 22d. 1843 

From the reports which have reached the Bureau in reference to 
the arrangements which you are making for the expedition to the 
Rocky Mountains, I fear that the discretion and thought which 
marked your first expedition will be found much wanting in the 

The limit placed upon your expenditures by the orders of this 
office, sufficiently indicated the kind of expedition which the De- 
partment was willing to authorize. But if reports be true you will 
much exceed this amount, the consequences of which will be to 
involve yourself in the most serious difficulties. 

I hear also that among other things, you have been calling upon 
the Ordnance Department for a Howitzer. Now Sir what authority 
had you to make any such requisition, and of what use can such a 
piece be in the execution of your duties. Where is your right to in- 
crease your party in the numbers & expense, which the management 
and preservation of such a piece require. If the condition of the 
Indians in the mountains is such as to require your party to be so 
warlike in its equipment it is clear that the only objects of your 
expedition geographical information cannot be obtained. 

The object of the Department was a peaceable expedition, similar 
to the one of last year, an expedition to gather scientific knowledge. 
If there is reason to believe that the condition of the country will 
not admit of the safe management of such an expedition, and of course 
will not admit of the only objects for the accomplishment of which 


the expedition was planned, you will immediately desist in its fur- 
ther prosecution and report to this office.^ Very Respectfully Your 
Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:279-80). 

1. Captain Bell's letter, with copies of Fremont's requisition (see Doc. No. 
65) and Kearny's order, had reached Washington and had been laid before 
James M. Porter, the Secretary of War ad interim, who, in turn referred them 
to Abert. And when Abert in effect replied that small arms — but not the 
howitzer — were consistent with JCF's order for a peaceful geographical survey, 
the Secretary of War wrote: "This whole proceeding appears to have been 
singularly irregular. If the party of the topographical corps needed arms, they 
should have applied through the regular channels, and in season. Putting oflf 
the application to the last hour was ill-advised, and the consequences should 
have been visited upon those in fault. Order, regularity, and system, must be 
preserved, and the commandant of the department should not have required, 
and officers of the ordnance should never have issued, public property in the 
irregular manner in which this was done. I cannot sanction the proceeding." 
See "Message of the President communicating the correspondence re the 
mountain howitzer taken by Lieutenant Fremont on the expedition to the 
Oregon," Senate Doc. 14, 28th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 432. 

2. Abert's letter reached St. Louis after JCF's departure for the West, 
though later JBF would have us believe that she suppressed the letter and 
dramatically hurried her husband's departure to prevent his recall by sinister 
forces. See her article, "The Origin of the Fremont Expeditions," Century 
Magazine, 61 (1891): 768-69, and a fragmentary draft of her unpublished 
memoirs in the Fremont Papers, CU-B. For a treatment of the misrepresenta- 
tion of Abert's letter, see jackson [2]. 

69. George Engelmann to Asa Gray 

St. Louis June 4th 1843. 
My Dear Doctor, 

• • • • 

Fremont was here beginning of May for nearly 2 weeks and I as- 
sisted him in his preparations and gave him instructions for geologi- 
cal & botanical researches and collections. He will if possible ascend 
the Arkansas to its sources, pass over to Lake Bonneville and then to 
the Columbia. He said he was not authorized to take any botanist 
with him; but Stewart^ has taken besides Geyer a gardner and a 


"German Scientific gentleman" with him, who says he is also a 
botanist & geologist — we will see what they do.^ I have no doubt 
Geyer will do more than all the others together. 

With a genus for Geyer & Lindheimer we ought to wait I think 
till they send one themselves, it will be more gratifying then. 

Yours Entirely, 

George Engelmann 

ALS, RC (MH-G). Addressed, "Prof. Asa Gray, Cambridge, Mass." 

1. Sir William Drummond Stewart (1795-1871), born in Scodand, had 
come to America in search of excitement and adventure as early as 1832, and 
made several journeys into the wilderness beyond the Missouri River. Alfred 
Jacob Miller, a young American artist, went with him on an 1837 trip. John 
James Audubon was invited to join the 1843 jaunt to the Rocky Mountains, but 
declined, as he had already made arrangements to travel far up the Missouri 
in a boat belonging to the American Fur Company. But, as Engelmann notes, 
a number of scientists did join the expedition (porter & davenport). 

2. The gardener who joined Sir William's expedition was Friedrich George 
Jacob Liiders (1813-1904), from Hamburg. As JCF notes later, Liiders lost 
the products of his diligent labor in the graveyard of the Columbia (Doc. No. 
137, p. 571), but through the kind assistance of the officers at Fort Van- 
couver he was able to sail for Hamburg in Feb. 1844. Before the year was 
over he had returned with a bride to St. Louis where he lived until 1851. 
After that time he lived in Sauk County, near Sauk City, Wis., where he 
pursued the occupations of gardener and florist (porter & davenport, 216; 
HAsKiNs). Besides Geyer and Liiders, two other plant collectors were attached 
to Sir William's expedition: Alexander Gordon, a Scotsman who had long 
been resident in America, and who also lost a large part of his collection by 
shipwreck soon after his embarkation at New Orleans for England, and 
Karl Friedrich Mersch. Mersch (b. 1810) had come to America in 1837 from 
a Luxemburg professorship of chemistry, and remained until 1870 (mc- 
kelvey, 785-87, 818-23). Joseph Burke was collecting for the Earl of Derby 
and William Jackson Hooker, though he seems to have traveled with the 
Hudson's Bay Company's traders for the most part (mc kelvey, 792-817). 

70. J. J. Abert to Robert Campbell 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington June 22d 1843. 


Your letter of the 12th instant has been duly received. 

In one from Lieut. Freemont dated the 12th of May, he says "I 


have made a portion of my purchases at a credit of sixty days and 
obtained a cash advance of 3000 dollars. Robert Campbell Esq. of 
this place has been my endorser on this occasion & I have engaged 
that the funds which you have appropriated to this service and of 
which there remained to be drawn between Six & seven thousand 
dollars which the law permits to be drawn from & after the 30th 
of June." 

There is a singular irregularity in this method of doing business, 
which I feel the less disposed to excuse as Lieut. Freemont had been 
so frequently admonished of the necessity of great exactness & atten- 
tion in the expenditure of public money, and also because it seems 
to me that Lieut. Freemont had time to consult the Bureau & to 
receive its written advice & directions. 

I fully appreciate the enthusiasm with which he encounters these 
hazardous expeditions, and readily acknowledge the merit which 
attaches itself to him, for his management of the last, yet these con- 
siderations do not relieve him from that exact accountability for 
expenditures required by the accountant officers, nor do they relieve 
either himself or this Bureau from the embarrassments consequent 
upon his irregular course in this respect. There are certain well 
known regulations for such cases, the neglect of which make serious 

For the 3000 dollars of Cash advanced for which you are ac- 
countable, a requisition will be in due time be made out & transmitted 
to you. But I do not see how the amount of the purchases can be 
forwarded. Were you aware of the restrictions upon the sending of 
public money to any one, you would be conscious of the embarrass- 
ments which the circumstances of this case create. 

The requisition for the above amount cannot be made till after 
the 1st July. In addition to this cash advance, if you will please to 
forward the Bills of Articles purchased, we will see what further 
can be done. Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:317-18). The letter was sent to St. Louis. Scottish- 
born Robert Campbell (1804-79) came to America in 1822, and soon became 
active in the fur trade from which he acquired a small fortune and a reputa- 


tion of straightforward dealing. After 1835, he engaged in mercantile and 
banking pursuits in St. Louis, became an extensive owner of real estate, and 
one of the chief suppliers of cash and equipment for JCF's second and third 
expeditions (scharf, 1:369-72). 

71. J. J. Abert to Jessie Benton Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington June 23. 1843 

I was duly honored by your letter of the 25th of May.^ The vouch- 
ers from Mr. Chouteau and Mr. Nicollet have been received. 

Our fears had been excited by reports of Lieut. Freemont['s] 
arrangements for his second expedition, which from matter made 
known to the office, looked more to military than to scientific re- 
sults, hence my letter of the 22d May which you have no doubt 

We could not authorize a military expedition under the appropri- 
ation for the Survey, and if the danger apprehended from the In- 
dians were such that a peaceable scientific expedition could not be 
prosecuted it was clearly our duty to avoid changing the one 
contemplated to an expedition of a military character. 

But we hope that our fears have been unnecessarily excited, and 
that this second expedition will add to the reputation already ac- 
quired by Lt. Freemont in his first. Believe me to be with great 
respect Madam Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 

Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:318-19). This letter does not reflect hostility toward 
the Fremonts and does not indicate that Abert believed JCF to be on the 
road to Washington to explain his conduct. And certainly no officer was 
appointed to proceed to the frontier to take the command from JCF. 

1. JBF's letter, registered but not found, seems merely to have stated that 
she had forwarded letters from JCF to the Topographical Bureau and would 
communicate such information as might reach her in relation to the expedition 
to the Rocky Mountains. 


72. J. J. Abert to Robert Campbell 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington July 3. 1843 


I have to inform you that a requisition has been this day made in 
your favor for three Thousand dollars to meet the payment of the 
loan obtained by Lieut. Fremont, and for which you are responsible. 

Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

J. }. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:330). On 13 July, probably before the receipt of this 
3 July letter of Abert's, Campbell wrote to say that funds to meet his endorse- 
ments for Fremont had not reached St. Louis, and that he was bringing 
vouchers to Washington to show his advances (entry in Register of Letters 

73. J. J. Abert to Thomas H. Benton 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington July 10th 1843 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
27th June.' 

The error of Lieut. Fremont, was that he kept the authority to 
which he was responsible, and from which he could have sought 
advice and directions, and for which he had time, entirely unin- 
formed of his proceedings, wants or views. 

No report whatever having been received from him, from the day 
he left this place for New York, during his stay here on his return, 
or while at St. Louis, except his letter of the 12th May upon the eve 
of his departure. Now as the equipment of his party contemplated 
a serious change in the character of the expedition under his com- 
mand, one that might involve the Government in Indian hostility, I 
have no doubt you will admit it to have been a negligence de- 


serving some reproof, that he did not seek the advice and orders of 
the Department. The Department might under such anticipations 
have prohibited the expedition, or it might have made it adequate 
successfully to have encountered the contemplated emergency. 

The expedition contemplates Indian hostilities, it may occasion 
them; need I do more under such a view than to appeal to your 
Known reputation for discipline when in the Army, and to your ex- 
perience in public affairs, for justifying the opinion that Lieut. 
Fremont ought to have made a timely report of Circumstances, and 
to have sought the advice and orders of the Department. 

When the requisitions of Lieut. Freemont upon the Ordnance 
Department were handed for approval, the course pursued by him, 
and the equipment were unusual; were without reasons to sustain 
them, and I was placed in the condition of recommending the ap- 
proval of what had not been authorized or its necessity shown, or of 
seriously embarassing [sic] a young (and I admit highly promis- 
ing) officer of my Corps. Under such circumstances I went to the 
utmost limit of my judgment, waiving all reasoning on account of 
the irregularity and neglects of the case, I recommended the ap- 
proval of his requisitions for small arms and ammunition for them, 
as these were essential under any character of the expedition, but I 
could not and did not recommend the approval of his requisition 
for the Howitzer. It appeared to me not only a useless, but an em- 
barrassing weapon to such an expedition, requiring well instructed 
men for its Management, and a serious increase of means for its 
transportation; and it will be a more favorable result than I antici- 
pate if the mere embarassments from transportation do not oblige 
him to leave it and its equipment at the first trading post at which 
he shall arrive. 

Such an equipment had also the aspect of a hostile expedition, 
which neither the law under which Lieut. Freemont acted, or his 
orders had authorized, and to meet which the organization of his 
expedition was not adapted, nor to authorize which had the War 
Department been consulted. Certainly it seems to me when an In- 
dian War may be the consequence of an expedition, the officer who 
starts it cannot be blameless, in omitting a reference of all circum- 
stances to the War Department, & in omitting a submission to its 
decision and orders. 

But the only consequence to Lieut. Freemont, by the disapproval 
of his requisition for the Howitzer, will be that he will be held 


accountable for its return. There is no other consequence to be 
apprehended. Of this I am allowed to make you the assurance of the 
War Department, which under the regulations is obliged to hold 
Lieut. Freemont, as it would any other officer, responsible for the 
piece and its equipment. Very Respectfully Sir Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:341-43). 

1. Benton, the chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Military 
Affairs, was absent from St. Louis when Abert's 22 May letter arrived, but 
by 27 June he had returned and seen the letter censuring his son-in-law. 
While the letter he wrote Abert on that day has not been found, it is entered 
in the Register of Letters Received in the Office of the Corps of Engineers. 
The clerk who made the entry, in describing the contents of the letter, wrote 
that Benton "regrets he [Fremont] should have been censured for the course 
he pursued in fitting out his expedition." In Thirty Years' View, 2:579-80, 
Benton said he wrote "to the department condemning the recall, repulsing the 
reprimand which had been lavished upon Fremont, and demanding a court- 
martial for him when he should return." 

74. Jessie Benton Fremont to Adelaide Talbot 

Saint Louis, Sep. 16th. 1843 
My dear Madam, 

Knowing the anxiety you must feel on account of your son, I 
take great pleasure in sending you the news which we received a 
few days since from the party. They had gotten on very prosper- 
ously as late as the 26th of June, at which time Mr. Fremont found 
an opportunity to write by two Indians who brought the letter in. 
Twenty five of the party were to take one route while the remaining 
fifteen crossed through the Mexican territory. He does not say in 
which division your son has been placed, but I assume he is with Mr. 
Fremont himself, as, knowing him to be an only son he was very 
anxious to bring him home to you in safety. By the middle or end of 
December they expect to be in this place & at the New Year's rejoicings 
Mr. Talbot will I hope be again with you. There are no means of 
communication with the party & I have therefore retained all the 
letters for Mr. Talbot which I will give to him on his return. If you 


see our friend Dr. Martin^ will you tell him that you heard from us 
& that all the family beg to be remembered to him ? 

Should any other intelligence be had of our voyageurs I will do 
myself the pleasure of communicating it to you instantly. Very re- 
spectfully yours, 

Jessie B. Fremont 

ALS, RC (DLC— Talbot Papers). Addressed, "Mrs. Talbot, F. Street 
Washington City D.C." Adelaide Talbot, the widow of Isham Talbot, who 
had served as U.S. senator from Kentucky, 1815-25, was the mother of young 
Theodore Talbot, who accompanied JCF as an aide on both the second and 
third expeditions. Many of the expense vouchers are in Talbot's hand and 
signatures are often witnessed by him. He also kept a journal (ed. by Charles 
H. Carey) of the second expedition as far as Fort Boise, the Hudson's Bay 
Company's post on the Snake River. The letters to his mother and sister Mary 
provide an interesting source of information for the third expedition. When 
that expedition became involved in California affairs, Talbot served as lieu- 
tenant adjutant in the California Battalion, and after his discharge he re- 
enlisted as an officer in the regular Army, which he then made his career. 

1. Dr. J. L. Martin was employed for several months by the Topographical 
Bureau in translating, and preparing for the press, J. N. Nicollet's unfinished 
notes on Indian matters (see Abert to Martin, 17 Oct. 1843, Lbk, DNA-77, 
6:463; Abert to Martin, 27 April 1844, and Abert to P. Wagner, 27 April 

75. J. J. Abert to Robert Campbell 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington September 18th 1843 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
8th inst.^ enclosing a copy of one received by you from Lt. Fremont, 
and to inform you that a requisition has been this day made in your 
favor for Eight hundred and three ^Yioo dollars, to meet the pay- 
ment of the several drafts drawn upon you by that officer. Very 
Respectfully Sir Your Obt. Servt. 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 6:430). 

1. Registered but not found. The clerk's entry indicates the St. Louis mer- 
chant had requested that a draft for $803.14 on New York or Philadelphia be 
remitted to him. 


l(i. Fremont to J. J. Abert 


Wascopam, Oregon Territory 
Novem: 24th. 1843 

Ten days after sight, please pay to the order of Dr. Marcus Whit- 
man, the sum of one hundred and eighty-two dollars and thirty-one 
cents, for supplies furnished to the Exploring party under my com- 
mand. Very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedt. Servt., 

J. Charles Fremont 
Lt. Topi. Engineers. 

ALS, RC (CLSM). Endorsed on the back: "Oregon 1843. Pay the within 
Henry Hill Treasurer of the A[merican] B[oard] Ch[ristian] M[issions]. 
Marcus Whitman. Pay J. T. Smith & Co. on order H. Hill Treasr. Pay Cor- 
coran & Riggs on order John T. Smith & Co, [. . .]." 

Although JCF does not mention having seen Marcus Whitman at the 
Dalles (also called Wascopam) before turning homeward on 25 Nov. (see 
Doc. No. 137, pp. 552-77), this financial voucher indicates that he had seen him 
and had purchased supplies from him. In his diary, Preuss writes: "Proposals 
for the return journey: advice of Dr. Whitman- — via Mexico and Vera Cruz. 
Fitzpatrick — via so-called California to Santa Fe. Fremont's obstinacy — north 
of Salt Lake, keeping almost to the old trail. I wonder how we shall get 
through" (preuss, 100). 

77. Jessie Benton Fremont to Adelaide Talbot 

St. Louis Mri. Dec. 3d. 1843. 
My dear Madam, 

When I wrote to you a few days since I had not anticipated having 
the pleasure of sending you any news of our travellers until their ar- 
rival here; but last night I saw one of the party who had left them at 
Fort Hall on the 27th of September. He had a packet of letters and 
among them one for yourself but in swimming a river they were lost 
& consequently the gratification of getting news from Mr. Talbot will 
be denied you. The man gave me many details of the Summer's 
campaign & a particular account of your son's health. He says he is 


"fat stout & all the time in a good humour" — and has not been sick an 
hour since they left the settlements. Mr. Fremont would have ac- 
complished his survey in a week after [Henry] Lee left, & by the 
middle of October, would be making his way homeward, and in a 
letter received by Mr. Campbell of this place. Mr. Fremont says that 
early in January 1844, he will be here. They had had perfect success 
in all their undertakings but when they arrived at Fort Hall Mr. 
Fremont found he could not procure provisions enough & therefore 
gave permission to ten of the least useful of the party to return^ — to 
one of these ten our letters were given & by him lost — one or two 
others were entrusted to a different man & by him brought in safely. 
You will feel their loss more than I for I have seen the living witness 
who testified to their health & good progress — but I hope it will be a 
comfort to you even though it comes at second hand. Very respect- 
fully yours, 

Jessie B. Fremont. 

ALS, RC (DLC— Talbot Papers). 

1. Actually ten voyageurs returned with Henry Lee: Michael Creely, John 
A. Campbell, William Creuss, Clinton De Forest, Basil Lajeunesse, Fran- 
cois Kaskaskai Lajeunesse, Alexis Perrault, Baptiste Tesson, Auguste Vas- 
quez, and Patrick White. The Daily National Intelligencer, 15 Dec. 1843, 
citing the St. Louis Gazette as its source of information, reported that ten men 
had arrived in St. Louis on Sunday, 30 Nov., and brought a "very unfavor- 
able account of their expedition, having been compelled for a portion of the 
time to subsist on horseflesh" and that the party had not been molested by the 
Indians, "except at the head of the North Fork, on which occasion the sight 
of a twelve-pound howitzer soon caused the savages to desist from all hostile 
movements." The vouchers reveal that each was paid $90.90 for his services as 
a voyageur or $.45 per day for 202 days from 3 May to 20 Nov. 1843, except 
the Lajeunesse brothers, who received slightly higher rates of compensation. 
All acknowledged receivmg payment at Fort Hall on 20 Sept., an indication 
that JCF expected the return trip to take approximately two months. 

78. }. J. Abert to Robert Campbell 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington December 13. 1843. 


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
2d. inst.^ and to inform you that a requisition has been this day made 


in your favor for five hundred and thirty three ^^oo dollars, to 
meet the advances made by you on account of the expedition under 
Lieut. Fremont. Very Respectfully Sir Your Obt. Servt. 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk(DNA-77, LS,7:65). 

1. Campbell's letter, not found, enclosed a copy of a letter from JCF, who 
had drawn upon him for funds to pay part of the men of the Oregon expedi- 
tion, and requested that the government remit the funds. 

79. Jessie Benton Fremont to Adelaide Talbot 

Saint Louis Feby. 1st 1844. 

Your letter has remained unansw^ered my dear Mrs. Talbot be- 
cause it found me prostrated by sick headaches occasioned as you 
w^ill at once conceive by "the sickness of the heart." It made me sorry 
to see the note to your son for he is not here yet — and I knew that little 
note contained the welcome home. If our sorrows could be alleviated 
by knowing that others had as great, yours my dear madam would 
not seem so insupportable — for although Theodore is an only son 
yet you have another child & she is with you — whilst my poor 
mother in law has but one living thing to love. She says "Charles is 
all that the grave has left me" — and should anything happen to him 
how utterly desolate must she be ; for your own heart would tell you 
that no daughter in law could replace your son, however much she 
might love you — and Mr. Fremont's mother has not even the comfort 
of having me with her so you are not the worst off, although I will 
admit that you have grief & anxiety enough, & the absence of an only 
son is cause sufficient for it. My own Mother says I am too young & 
too perfectly healthy to know all the miseries that attend a separation, 
& that if I were older and in a nervous state of health this incessant 
disappointment would wear me out. It is very fortunate for us all 
that I have elastic spirits for being here I hold a very responsible place 
& the letters I write my Mother & yourself are I know guides to your 
thoughts & exert an influence over your feelings. 

For the last two weeks I had become so excited & unhappy for 


every day every hour indeed brought a fresh disappointment, that 
not then would I have written to you. But last night Mr. Campbell, 
who has been to Oregon himself twenty years ago nearly, when 
every difficulty was greater than now, traced out on the map Mr. 
Fremonts route & gave me the date of his probable arrival at each 
place, and satisfied me that he would be here in February. As Mr. 
Campbell says, "They may have a tedious journey but I assure not a 
dangerous one." If you knew Mr. Campbell you would feel as quiet 
as I do — for he is an honest man one who in word nor deed is un- 
true. Ma says, I believe, because it is what I want to hear, and al- 
though I do not think so yet perhaps it is the case. I do not tell you 
then my dear Mrs. Talbot to believe as I do in Mr. Campbell, but it 
would be a very happy thing for you if you could— it is so pleasant 
to rely implicitly on anyone, especially if they tell you what you love 
to hear. So this morning I resolved to write and tell you all he had 
said & hope it would have its influence in tranquilizing your feelings. 
You only look for your son at regular periods of the day— you cannot 
estimate that comfort until you are situated as I am. Mr. Fremont 
may come in any conveyance but a steam car & from the moment I 
open my eyes in the morning until I am asleep again I look for him. 
I hurry home from a visit and from church & the first question is 
"Has he come ?" Judge then how the ever recurring "no" jars on my 
ear— it is worse I assure you than it can be to you to see "They have 
not arrived yet" in the beginning of every letter from me. Still I 
have the hope that very soon I shall be able to efface all those feelings 
by telling you "they are here safe and well" and in that little sentence 
will be healing for every pain. 

If it is not asking too much, will you write to me again ? but do not 
tell me I do so much for you— indeed it gratifies me to write much 
more than it can you to receive them and if I give you an hour of 
comfort I feel more than compensated. Mother desires me to give 
her kindest regards to you and I add mine for your daughter whose 
health is I hope restored. For yourself believe me dear Madam most 

sincerely your friend, 

Jessie A.^ B. Fremont 

ALS, RC (DLC— Talbot Papers). Addressed, "Mrs. Talbot, F Street, 
Washington City, D.C." 

1. Jessie rarely included in her signature the initial of her middle name 
"Anne," as she does here. 


80. Jessie Benton Fremont to Adelaide Talbot 

Saint Louis March 3d. 1844 

I have been obHged to leave your letter unanswered for some days 
my dear Mrs. Talbot for Mother had a return of her fall attack of 
chills & fever & for ten days has needed such constant attention that I 
have had no time for writing except to give Father a daily bulletin. 
My letter giving you the news of the finding of Mr. Fremont's 
[blan](\ has reached you by this time & has I hope given you the 
same certainty that it has me — that is, that with his jaded animals he 
has not ventured to travel in the winter but made a comfortable 
camp in the buffalo country & gotten through the worse of the 
winter without exposure. Consequently he cannot be here until the 
middle of April. I have sympathized in your anxieties for your son 
more than I had expressed for I was aware before they left the fron- 
tier, of Mr. Talbot's delicate health. Mr. Fremont sent for Sir Wil- 
liam Stuart's [Stewart's] physician, Dr. Tighlman [Tilghman], to 
attend Mr. Talbot & kept him for that purpose until Sir Wm.'s party 
left.^ I know my husband would have mentioned in his letter from 
Oregon, any sickness of your son's for every one written from the 
frontier expressed anxiety as to the result of the experiment — for 
such he felt it — & the responsibility was greater as the Government 
allows no physician — they are to do or die. The appropriations are 
doled out from the Department with a view to the praise of Congress 
for their economy & not with any regard to the comfort of the party. 
From 10 to 11 thousand was all Col. Abert allowed for this expedi- 
tion — an expedition to consist of thirty men & last for nine months 
& to go through the heart of a hostile country, for after the Sioux & 
Blackfeet are passed they have to encounter the British occupants of 
Oregon & only those who will not be convinced refuse to believe that 
they are treacherous and would willingly assist the Indians in case 
of difficulty. And yet Mr, Fremont has been censured by Col. Abert, 
Col. Totten" & the Secretary at War, separately & collectively for ob- 
taining arms from the arsenal to defend himself, and the arms 
charged to his private account. Col. Kearny who acted like a gener- 
ous soldier & gentleman, and ordered their issue has also been censured 
by Mr. Porter, who I am rejoiced to see was rejected contemp- 
tuously by the Senate.^ I am doing what you apologized for my dear 
Madam but when I think of the injustice done my husband I have 


no longer patience with those who have behaved so unjustly towards 
him. It is hard for a man to leave a family to tremble for him daily, 
& receiving no reward for his exertions & encounters with danger, 
but the approval of his Colonel, to be met on his return by a letter 
equally wounding to him & disgraceful to the writer. It makes me 
sick to think of its effect upon Mr. Fremont for the bitterest lesson in 
life is to meet with such miserable behaviour from those who pro- 
fessed friendship. You must pardon me for occupying your time 
with my own affairs dear Mrs. Talbot but I wish you who have 
shewn such a kind interest in me to know the truth when you will 
hear Mr. F. blamed for being displeased with his Colonel. As it is a 
private affair I have no right perhaps to speak of it, but it will be 
public when he returns. Will you make my kindest regards to your 
daughter. I hope to have the pleasure of making her acquaintance in 
six weeks. As for yourself I feel as if I knew you well already. My 
poor baby has taken the whooping cough & will need all my time 
but I will find an opportunity to answer all your letters for they are 
a great pleasure to me. Very sincerely yours, 

Jessie A. B. Fremont 

ALS, RC (DLC— Talbot Papers). Addressed. 

1. Dr. Stedman Richard Tilghman, a recent graduate of the Baltimore 
Medical School, was traveling with Sir William Drummond Stewart on his 
purely adventurous expedition to the Wind River Mountains. At the West- 
port staging area, Stewart's "Camp William" near the Shawnee mission was 
not far from JCF's own camp. It was believed by some at the time that 
Stewart tried to persuade JCF to accompany him as far as the Rockies (porter 
& DAVENPORT, 218). Evcn journalist Matthew C. Field, also traveling with 
Stewart, believed that "young Freemont" was going with them. But this 
would have been poindess, as Stewart was virtually duplicating JCF's route 
of the previous year (field, 15). 

2. Col. Joseph Gilbert Totten, USMA 1805, was chief engineer, and there- 
fore not only JCF's but also Abert's superior officer. He seems not to have 
sent a separate letter of censure to JCF. 

3. The refusal of the War Department to sanction JCF's taking of the 
howitzer was now public information, since President Tyler, as requested 
by a resolution of the Senate on 18 Dec. 1843 (initiated by Benton), had trans- 
mitted copies of the interdepartmental correspondence on the howitzer to that 
body, and on 29 Dec. the Senate had ordered the correspondence printed. 
Perhaps this played some part in the Senate's refusal by 38 to 3 votes to 
confirm President Tyler's appointment of James Madison Porter as Secretary 
of War. Porter, the founder of Lafayette College, left the Cabinet on 30 Jan. 
1844. As the question of confirmation was considered in executive sessions 
after the report of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, of which Benton 
was chairman, no debate on Porter was printed (see Journal of the Executive 
Proceedings of the Senate of the United States). 


81. Jessie Benton Fremont to Adelaide Talbot 

Saint Louis March 24th. 1844. 

It is so long since I received your kind letter of congratulation on 
Father's escape my dear Mrs. Talbot, that I feel ashamed not to have 
answered it.^ But in that time I have had a little battle in my mind 
and it has not been decided until a day or two since— You know I 
had made my plans to go on with Mother, but as the time drew near 
to leave St. Louis I felt my resolution leaving me & at last the tempta- 
tion to remain became so great that like many a better & wiser per- 
son I fell before its force. So that I shall not have the pleasure of 
seeing you as soon as I had supposed but then I shall see your son the 
sooner & give him your letters & tell him that you have been well 
during the winter. All the mountaineers agree upon the last of April 
as the earliest date at which Mr. Fremont can be here, as he can then 
come swiftly & pleasantly by water. 

After Mother leaves I shall be very lonely here and will depend 
upon you dear Madam for letters to shorten the time of waiting for 
I shall feel like a sentinel on the look out until Mr. Fremont returns 
— and then I can give pleasure to you in return for your kindness to 
me. Then too I can make my letters more agreeable but now I do 
believe I have but a single idea. Our friend Dr. Martin has a great 
many & if he were a good Christian he would feel it a charitable act 
to write to such an unfortunate forlorn person as I will soon be; I 
think I shall have to resort to some desperate remedy such as plain 
sewing to relieve the nervous state I shall fall into. 

You see Mrs. Talbot I have written you a letter about myself & you 
must answer in the same way, telling how you feel & think also. 
There cannot be two more charm [ing] subjects although it might 
be more selon les regies to leave such speeches to others. Make mine 
& Mother's kindest regards to your daughter & receive for yourself 
Mother's warmest thanks for your remembrance of & feeling for her. 
As she leaves in three days she has no time to write but desires me 
to say for her that she was much gratified by your writing so kindly. 
Yours most sincerely, 

Jessie A. B. Fremont 

ALS, RC (DLC— Talbot Papers). Addressed. 

1. Benton was one of the dignitaries aboard the U.S.S. Princeton, com- 


manded by Robert F. Stockton, which took a Sunday excursion down the 
Potomac on 28 Feb. 1844. There was exhibition firing of a new cannon which 
exploded into its audience, killing Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer and 
Secretary of State Abel Upshur. Benton, who only a few seconds earlier had 
moved from the ranks of those hit by flying metal, suffered heavy shock and 
a ruptured eardrum (smith, 193). 

82. Jessie Benton Fremont to Adelaide Talbot 

Saint Louis, June 15th 1844. 

You must think it very strange dear Mrs. Talbot that I have not 
yet answ^ered your two kind letters but since they arrived my litde 
Lilly has been very sick, and I myself have had incessant headaches 
for the last three weeks. And you know with the headache and a sick 
child nothing can be done. Lilly is well again now & although I have 
my usual pain in the head I will no longer defer thanking you for 
your kindness in writing so often & more especially for the copy of 
the remarks in the English work you mentioned. Mr. Fremont will 
be doubly gratified when he reads them for neither of us had any 
claim to the kindnesses you have shewn us — In return for your at- 
tention I can tell you some little news of our party. A Mr. Glasgow 
has just arrived from California.^ He saw Mr. Fremont early in 
November & learned from him that he was to winter at Fort Hall. 
As Mr. Glasgow came in by the Southern route he of course arrived 
sooner than our party could as it was probably to return by the Yel- 
lowstone. We know that the snows in the mountains are breaking 
up, for the rivers above are all rising & if after so many disappoint- 
ments you can still hope, then look for their being here the first of 
July — How sorry I do feel that neither Mr. Fremonts mother nor 
yourself can have the certainty of restored happiness as soon as L It 
will seem wrong to be so very happy whilst you are still in trembling 
anxiety. I wish I had Morse's telegraph for that once — it would 
surely be a better use than disappointing Presidential candidates, and 
bothering the country about the Texas Treaty. 

Nothing but the wish that you might not think harshly of me 
for not having written before, would have made me write this morn- 
ing, for I am sure my dear Mrs. Talbot that you will find difficulty in 
reading my short letter & nothing to reward your trouble when it is 


read. Remember however that it is a hot Saint Louis day. I have the 
headache & to add to my troubles my pen is very contrary & refuses 
to write as I wish it. I will make a second & hope more creditable 
effort next week & perhaps I may by that time have some news from 
the mountains. With kindest regards to your daughter I am dear 
Madam Very sincerely yours, 

Jessie B. Fremont 

I find I have omitted what I principally wished to say— that at Fort 
Hall our friends would have every comfort that fire food & shelter 
could give. So you need be under no apprehensions as to Theodore's 
health during the winter for I am sure Mr. Fremont would not let 
him expose himself." 

ALS, RC (DLC— Talbot Papers). A letter of 21 April 1844 from JBF to 
Mrs. Talbot is not printed, as it gives no information on JCF and merely 
councils "patience." 

1. Possibly Edward J. Glasgow (1820-1908), who had been in business at 
Mazatlan with his uncle, James Glasgow. This JBF letter implies that Glasgow 
had seen JCF at Fort Vancouver before returning to St. Louis to engage in 
the Santa Fe trade. 

2. JCF and his party finally arrived at St. Louis on 6 Aug. 1844 in the 
steamer latan (see Doc. No. 137, p. 724; Daily National Intelligencer, 17 
Aug. 1844). 

83. Fremont to J. J. Abert 

Washington City, August 21. 1845 [1844] 

I have the honor to submit for your consideration the following 
statement. Col. Robert Campbell of St. Louis has been in the habit of 
furnishing funds and supplies for the outfit and maintenance in the 
field of the different parties under my command in the prosecution 
of military & geographical surveys west of the Mississippi, from the 
year 1842 to the present time. Drafts drawn by me upon him in pay- 
ment of wages and supplies have been always promptly met, and the 
funds necessary for the discharge of parties furnished by him until 
the same could be furnished from Washington or was appropriated 


by Congress. These supplies were furnished in all cases without 

After the return of the recent exploring party from California Mr. 
Campbell undertook to discharge a part of my liability to the party 
and thereby to maintain the credit of the government and quiet the 
clamors of the men. These advances amount to $6204.44. They were 
made on government account and in my name and I have to request 
that the amount be paid to Col. Campbell out of the appropriations 
for arrearages, and to be charged to my account, to be sustained here- 
after by proper vouchers, which are in my hands, and will be fur- 
nished as soon as practicable. Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 

Copy (DNA-217, T-135, Roll 1, Accounts and Payments, 1845-49). 

84. Fremont to William Wilkins 


Washington City 
August 28th, 1844. 

I have read the papers with the perusal of which you honored me,^ 
and in addition to the facts contained in them can only add the fol- 
lowing, which appear to have any bearing upon the question. The 
ground on which the action took place is claimed by the Sioux, and 
undoubtedly belongs to them. On the day previous to the fight a 
solitary Sioux was surprized & scalped by the Delawares. For the 
truth of this we have only the word of the Sioux, and it is highly 
improbable that the Delawares, who are distinguished for their 
sagacity & skill would have committed such an error in the face[ ?] 
of a strong body of their enemies. The Delaware was strictly a hunt- 
ing party. I saw their traps among the spoils taken by the Sioux. The 
Delawares were on a customary line of travel for all going to the 
mountains, both Indians and whites. At this time there are Delaware 
trappers in the mountains, among them Capt. Swanac's son. The 
Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, appear to enjoy this section of 
country in common and make no other use of it than to go into it in 


war parties, principally against the Pawnees. On my return lately 
from the mountains I met a large war party of Arapahoes on the 
Smoky Hill Fork of the Kansas, They were returning home and had 
been down as far as the Pawnee villages. It is customary for Dela- 
ware, Kansas, and Pawnee Indians to go into this country for Buffalo 
as they have none in their own ; the Sioux, &c. always had abundance 
of buffalo in the country which they occupy nearer the mountains. 
Out of the immediate neighbourhood of their villages the Sioux, 
Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, never fail to destroy any small parties 
of Indians and for some years past, of whites also, without any re- 
gard whatever as to whom the country may belong where the fight 
takes place.* They are now, especially the Arapahoes, more hostile 
than they have been at any period for twenty years. Along the moun- 
tains, on the waters of the Arkansas and Platte rivers, the Sioux, 
Cheyennes and Arapahoes, can bring out three thousand men. Very 
respectfully sir. Your Obdt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont, 
2d. Lieut. Topis. Engineers 

* Several acts of this kind have been committed in the present year. 
My party narrowly escaped being cut off by them and they killed 
whites in my immediate neighbourhood. 

ALS-JBF (DNA-75, LR by the Office of Indian Affairs, Fort Leavenworth 
Agency). Endorsed, "O. I. A. Ft. Leavenworth Washn. Aug. 28. '44. Lt. J. C. 
Fremont. Returns letter &c. of Col. Kearny & Th. H. Harvey [ . . . | & 
reports on the killing of Delawares by Sioux & Cheyenne, the subject of 
them. F 208 Rec Aug 28/44. Indian Office Reed. 30 Augt. 1844." William 
Wilkins (1779-1865), former U.S. senator and minister to Russia, an ex- 
pansionist and a supporter of Andrew Jackson's policies, was confirmed 
as Secretary of War soon after the rejection of his fellow Pennsylvanian, 
James M. Porter. 

1. As the endorsement indicates, these were letters of Colonel Kearny and 
Thomas H. Harvey, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis. Harvey 
outlined the increasing friction between the Sioux on the one hand and the 
Delawares, Pawnees, and Omahas on the other, and recommended a strong 
military establishment above Council Bluffs to keep peace among the western 
Indians though he knew "too well the strong prejudices of the military to 
leave civilization to entertain hope of such an establishment until the Govern- 
ment shall be convinced by the most calamitous results to the Indians" 
(Thomas H. Harvey to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, St. Louis, 12 
Aug. 1844, DNA-75, LR, O. I. A., Fort Leavenworth Agency). The letter of 
Kearny is not found, but by 1845 he was known to favor biennial or triennial 
cavalry expeditions rather than permanent forts at remote points (clarke, 

85. Rudolph Bircher to Fremont 

St. Louis, Mo., September 15, 1844 
Dear Sir: 

In the bearer you will recognise Alexis Ayot, one of the men who 
belonged to your expedition to the Rocky mountains; and who, 
through accident, was shot during the voyage through his right leg, 
endangering to all appearances, if not his life, at least the leg itself, 
to such a degree as to make it uncertain whether amputation would 
not become necessary.^ At your request I took the poor fellow under 
my charge, and I rejoice to be able to send him to you, after careful 
treatment on my part, in the condition you see him. He is cured, 
though it is doubtful whether a sort of lameness and permanent 
weakness will not remain the final result. This has of course sub- 
jected the poor man to heavy expenses; his bill for surgical treatment 
and medicines has amounted to $75, independent of his board, lodg- 
ing, &c. 

When it is taken into consideration that, by this unfortunate ac- 
cident, his whole object of the voyage was frustrated, his toil, labor, 
and time lost, (and he stands there at this moment as poor as he 
started, being crippled besides,) I submit it to your generous and 
philanthropic heart whether he is not a worthy object of your kind- 
ness and protection. There will be, no doubt, various ways to provide 
for him, should you deem proper to extend aid to him. 

With great respect, I am, dear sir, your obedient servant. 

Rudolph Bircher 

Printed, "Petition for Compensation for Loss of Limb by Alexis Ayot, 27 
April 1846," Senate Doc. 329, 29th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 476. In June 1841, 
Rudolph Bircher had a shop at 87 Main Street, and advertised himself as a 
hairdresser and barber with capability in "cupping and Leeching" (advertise- 
ment in the Daily Missouri Republican, 2 June 1841). 

1. The accident to the voyageur occurred near the end of July as the home- 
ward-bound party was crossing a creek (see p. 723). By a special act of Con- 
gress, Ayot was granted a $10 pension per month. He subsequently married 
an American girl, became a shoemaker in Montpelier, Vt., and voted for JCF 
in 1856 (see United States Statutes at Large, 9:679; memoirs, 419). 


86. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington Septr. 15th 1844 
My dear Sir, 

Your letter arrived yesterday evening and I read it with almost 
as much pain as gratification. I felt much gratified with the very 
flattering manner in which you speak of my Report, and at the same 
time felt regret and mortification at my inability to do any thing 
just now in furtherance of the plan we had proposed to ourselves 
when I set out upon the recent campaign. A fatality seemed to at- 
tend our plants in this expedition. The collection between Fort Hall 
(on Lewis' or Snake river) and the bay of San Francisco, in Upper 
California was entirely lost by a fall of the mule on which it was 
packed, from a precipice into a torrent. The animal was killed and 
the bales could not be recovered. From California to the forks of the 
Kansas river, I had made a collection which would have been full of 
interest to you. I have never seen anything comparable to the pro- 
fusion and variety of plants in the country thro' which I passed. I 
am satisfied that very many of the plants & shrubs, as well as several 
trees were entirely new, & I had with great labor ascertained from 
the Indians the medicinal qualities of many, and had obtained all 
those which they used in any way for food. With these latter I was 
also acquainted from having used them myself, and the use of the 
former I had witnessed in several important cases. I had carefully 
studied the vegetation through every mile of the region travelled 
and made full notes. In addition to our complete publication sep- 
arate from the body of the Report, I had intended that we should 
give interest & value to the narrative by inserting in it, & for each 
day along the line of travel, the characteristic shrubs & plants of the 
region, which as the country was a waste, desert and mountains, & 
generally devoid of timber between the Californian & the Rocky Mts. 
formed a peculiar & highly interesting growth. You will form some 
idea to yourself of the floral richness of the country from the fact 
that at a distance of twenty five miles I mistook the fields of red & 
orange flowers along the slopes at the foot of mountains for 
strata of parti coloured rocks. Though in the course of our journey 
the Bales of plants had been twice wet, yet they were in very beauti- 
ful order when we encamped on the upper waters of the Kansas on 


the 13th of July, in the course of which night it began to rain vio- 
lently & towards morning the river which was 100 yards wide sud- 
denly broke over its banks, becoming in less than 5 minutes more than 
half a mile in breadth. Everything we had was thoroughly soaked. 
We were obliged to move camp to the Bluffs in a heavy rain which 
continued for several days and our fine collection was entirely 
ruined.^ I have never had a severer trial of my fortitude. I brought 
them along and such as they are I send them to you. They are 
broken up & mouldy and decayed, and to day I tried to change 
some of them, but found it better to let them alone. Perhaps your 
familiarity with plants may enable you to make something out of 
them. You will find them labelled with numbers which correspond 
to the numbers of notes in my books, which I will copy & send to 
you in case you can do anything with them." I shall probably be in 
New York soon & could indicate the localities of such as are not 
labelled. From the wreck of our Fossil collection I saved some in 
which the Vegetable impressions seem to me very plain & beautiful. 
Could you aid me in decyphering them ? If so I will send or bring 
them. From the moment the plants were lost, I had formed a de- 
termination which has been strengthened by your letter — to return 
immediately to the interesting regions I have described to you, with 
the main and leading object of making anew such collection as will 
enable us to give a perfect description of the vegetable character of 
the whole region. Its interest will of course be increased by large 
additions in Geography & Geology as we shall run an entirely new 
line in going out. I beg that you will keep this plan in view in your 
examination of the plants I now send you, as we may possibly be 
able to connect them with those I shall gather next year. Silence is 
one of the elements of success, and therefore I know that you will 
excuse me for telling you that I mention this plan only to yourself 
& shall speak of it to no one else. I have 60 or 70 fine mules & 
horses at pasture on the frontier and shall immediately commence 
my preparations so as to leave the frontier early in April, about the 
1st and shall certainly be again at the frontier early in October of 
next year (1845). 

In order to have efficient assistance in preparing & changing the 
plants &c. I take with me a young German gardener'^ who has the 
botanical education which they usually receive. We shall also have 
colored figures of the plants. I trust that you will ent^er warmly into 
my enterprise & give me in the course of the winter whatever sug- 


gestions may offer themselves to you, tending to ensure our success. 
I must not omit to inform you that our geographical labors were 
attended with a beautiful success. We have passed through a country 
new & full of interest every mile of which we have sketched in our 
field books, supported by several volumes of astronomical positions. 
All my notes of every kind have been preserved and enough re- 
mains from the Geological collection to determine much positively 
& next year will add a great deal. I am very desirous to study these 
remains with some good Geologist, conversant in fossils & it would 
be very important to me to endeavor to add something to the little 
knowledge I have of practical botany. Altogether I shall have a busy 
winter, in writing a Report of the last campaign which must be 
presented to Congress before March, & in preparing for another. The 
plants will leave this place Tuesday morning & I will drop you a 
note where to find them. You will find a small parcel containing 
some of the fruit of an accacia (?) of which I have been able to find 
no description. If not destroyed you will also find the leaves & fruit 
among the plants in the paper. Among the plants you will [find] 
the wood of the artemisia (a tridentata)^ & a salt shrub which I can 
indicate to you among the plants by the number. The mat I thought 
would interest you, as it is made from the Ammoli a California 
plant which is in the collection & will be recognized when we com- 
pare numbers. I conclude now this disjointed letter & hope to hear 
from you soon in reply. I am my dear Sir Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont. 
Dr. Torrey. 

ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. In the summer of 1844, most if not all of the tributaries of the Kansas 
River had great floods, possibly record-breaking, due to prolonged and heavy 
rains in May and June. Almost a month earlier than JCF's 13 July flood, the 
water had crested at Kansas City and seems to have been considerably higher 
than the disastrous flood of 1951 from Manhattan to below Lawrence on the 
Kansas and Marias des Cygnes rivers (flora). 

2. Torrey in turn sent Fremont's Compositae to Gray, who at first wrote that 
though the greater part were well known, there did appear to be three or 
four belonging to genera new to him. All the specimens were so bad that he 
thought it best not to make an independent report on the collection — "too 
many puzzles which good specimens another time will settle clearly." Later he 
decided to characterize the four new genera — "three of which were remark- 
ably distinct ones and curious" — in the Boston Journal of Natural History in 
order to secure them, and his paper was published in Jan. 1845 (5:104-11). 
See letters of Asa Gray to Torrey, Monday evening, [1844], and 3 Dec. 


[1844], NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence. By the time the second Report 
was published, Gray had ascertained a fifth new genus, Nicolletia, from the 

3. Not identified. 

4. A. tridentata Nutt., sagebrush. 

87. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

Thursday Evening, Oct. 1 [1844] 

• • • • 

Dr. Wyman wishes much to accompany Fremont if he goes on 
another journey — entirely at his own expenses, if need be/ As his 
object is entirely zoology, he will not interfere with Fremont's 
botanical plans, while the results would redound to Fremont's ad- 
vantage. He is a most amiable, quiet, and truly gentlemanly fellow, 
retiring to a fault, but full of nerve, and surely is to be the great man 
of this country in the highest branches of zoology and comparative 
anatomy. I therefore very strenuously solicit your influence at court 
in his behalf. 

I am glad that Fremont takes so much personal interest in his 
botanical collections. He will do all the more. I should like to see 
his plants, especially the Compositae & Rosaceae. As to Conijerae 
he should have the Taxodium sempervirens, so imperfectly known, 
and probably a new genus. Look quick at it, for it is probably in 
Coulter's coll. which Harvey is working at.^ 

• • • • 

With love to all, I remain cordially yours, 

A. Gray 

ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. At this time Jeffries Wyman (1814-74), who was to become one of 
America's leading anatomists, was professor of anatomy and physiology, 
Hampden-Sydney College Medical School, Richmond, Va. In 1847, he was 
appointed Hersey Professor of Anatomy at Harvard and there built up the 
anatomical museum. He did not accompany JCF in 1845, but made collecting 
expeditions to Florida, Surinam, and South America in the 1850s. 

2. Thomas Coulter, born near Dublin in 1793, collected plants in Mexico 
while in the employ of a mining company, and in California in 1831 and 1832. 
He later became curator of the herbarium in Trinity College, Dublin Uni- 
versity, and his successor in this office. Professor W. H. Harvey, worked on 
Coulter's Mexican and Californian plants in 1844 (mc kelvey, 428-42). 

88. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington D.C. Octr 6th 1844 
My dear Sir, 

An absence from the city will account to you for this late reply 
to your last two letters, which I found here on my return. I am very 
glad to hear that you will be able to rescue many of the plants & still 
better satisfied to know that the botanical riches of the country are 
as great as I had thought. All your suggestions which regard the 
collection of Cryptogamia [mosses, ferns] shall be particularly at- 
tended to & good coloured drawings made of plants & trees, and 
since reading your letter I am very sanguine that we shall be able to 
produce a very interesting and valuable work. I have kept myself 
well informed of the movements of Loeders & Geyer and we must do 
our best endeavors to anticipate the English botanist. Geyer wrote 
to me from Fort Hall when I was on the Great Salt Lake. He had 
made a large collection which he proposed to complete & carry to 
Europe the present year, embarking at the mouth of the Columbia. 
He is now in the north or main branch of the Columbia. I met 
Loeders at the cascades of the Columbia near Vancouver to which 
he was going. He had made no collection whatever, but proposed 
doing much work this year. The proposals for the sale of collec- 
tions which you saw in the European papers were from Engelman 
of St. Louis. He had made arrangements with Loeder & Geyer to 
dispose of their collections which should be delivered to him on 
the condition that Dr. Engelman should fit them out & they enjoy 
the pecuniary advantage from the sale of the collections which he 
engaged to dispose of, while all the reputation arising from their 
description &c. should belong to him. 

So far Loeder has not succeeded and Geyer proved entirely faith- 
less to his confidence, carrying off the plants & otherwise behaving 
very badly. ^ This brings me directly to the gentleman you recom- 
mend. He will work for us in good faith for such salary as I can 
give him, and what profit as may arise from the sale of the plants? 
If you are certain that he may be relied on for these things I will 
certainly try to do what you desire & take him with me — tho' 
I have proceeded somewhat far in an arrangement with another 
person who would be satisfied to aid me in gathering the plants 


for a stipulated salary. Still I should like better the gentleman you 
mention & should take pleasure in aiding him in any way possible 
as you describe him to be poor & dispirited. I would be glad if you 
would assist me to determine some fossil remains, belonging to a 
bituminous coal formation, which I brought among my specimens. 
They are very interesting & important to me in fixing the geology. 
If you think you can find leisure I will send them to you. I thank 
you for your offer to bear a portion of the expense of transporting 
the plants; but it was small & I beg you will not think of it — Yours 
very truly, 

J, C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (NNNBG — Torrey Correspondence). Endorsed, "Upon official 
business Bureau of Topi. Engrs. J. J. Abert Col. Corps T. E." Addressed to 
"Dr. John Torrey, Princeton, New Jersey." 

1. For Liiders' losses, see Doc. No. 69, note 2, and p. 571. In spite of his 
written contract with George Engelmann, whereby Geyer gave him disposal 
rights to his collection in return for his outfit, Geyer returned to London and 
offered his sets to Sir William Hooker (mc kelvey, 775, 778). 

89. Fremont to George Engelmann 

Washington City Octr. 22d. 1844 
My dear Sir, 

I found the plants in such a miserable condition when I arrived 
that I could not even change them but sent them direct to Dr. 
Torrey. The greater part were entirely ruined ; he says he thinks he 
will be able to identify a number of them, & judging from the col- 
lection he says we have sustained a great loss as the botanical riches 
of the country are very great. Among the collection are several speci- 
mens of new trees. Dr. Torrey & Dr. Gray are jointly engaged 
in endeavoring to make what they can out of them. But my mis- 
fortune on this occasion will be a safeguard to me on the next 
trip. I find that the most valuable among the geological specimens 
have been preserved. These are fossils of vegetable & other remains 
which fortunately have not been in the least injured while most of 
the others were entirely ground up. So much therefore we have as 
certain data & on the next trip may possibly do enough to make a 
connected work. Will you have the kindness to send me your 


barometrical observations from May 18th to the 1st of October 1843. 
I shall be glad to get them soon as by the time they reach here I shall 
wish to make the calculations. I have been very busy but will find 
time to write to you occasionally if I have anything of interest to 
say. Please give my regards to Dr. Wislizenus.^ Did he in the 
course of his journey in the mountains see what is given as the 
mountain goat in Richardson's Fauna— (color white, wool or hair 
long). The only goat that I have seen is like the animal only in the 
horns — the body is like a deer & colored like one with short hair — it 
makes the bleat of a sheep, & the hunters call it the mountain sheep. 
The naturalist who accompanied Wilkes Exploring expedition" tells 
me that he saw it in the mountains near the head of the Arkansaw 
but did not get near enough to kill one. Yours very truly & re- 

J. C. Fremont 

Please put your reply in an envelope addressed to Col. J. J. Abert, 
Chief of the Topographical Bureau. 

ALS, RC (MoSB). Endorsed, "Rec— Nov. 2d. Ans. Nov. 27th." 

1. In 1844, Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus (1810-89) was practicing medicine 
in St. Louis in partnership with Engelmann. He was already an experienced 
western traveler and author, for he had accompanied a fur-trading party to the 
Far West, journeying to a rendezvous on Green River and to Fort Hall, 
and returning by way of the Laramie plains, the Arkansas River, and the 
Santa Fe Trail to St. Louis. He published an account of his journey under the 
title Ein Ausflug nach der Felsen-Gebirgen in Jahre 1839 (later issued in 
English). In 1846, he would join a trading caravan for Santa Fe and Chi- 
huahua and make close observations of the fauna, flora, and geology of that 

2. Titian Ramsay Peale (1799-1885). Peale was much interested in moun- 
tain sheep, and some of his sketches of them appear in Jessie Poesch's account 
of Peale, published as vol. 52 (1961) of the Memoirs of the American 
Philosophical Society. 

90. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington D. C. October 28th. 1844 
My Dear Sir, 

I write you a line to say that constant occupation has prevented 
my replying to yours as I have been endeavoring day after day to 


find the time to make you out a copy of notes for the plants. I think 
I shall be able to carry out many of the suggestions contained in your 
letter. Col. Abert shewed me a letter from Dr. Grey [Gray] in favor 
of Dr. Wyman, In case any arrangement should be made with Dr. 
Wyman, it will be necessary that he receive his salary from the De- 
partment and report to it. I have not been able to find a single copy 
of my Report but if I should succeed in obtaining any I will send 
them to you. I would be much obliged to you if you could give me 
the name of the enclosed little plants. It was the first flower I found 
in bloom on descending from the California Mts. I will write again 
very soon. Yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

91. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City Novr 21st. 1844. 

My dear Sir, 

I send you herewith a list of localities for the plants of 1844. Those 
for '43 I will send you in a day or two as I did not wish to make 
one such large package. These are simply the descriptions annexed 
to the plant when first taken but the greater part of those plants are 
noticed repeatedly through all my journals, & their localities ex- 
tended with additional information respecting them — but as I am 
much pressed for time & this list has already amounted to fifty pages 
I thought it better to wait — until you ascertained what plants could 
be recognized, when I will send you the additional information. In 
the other package the numbers go as high as 800 — making about 
1500. Nearly all of the plants gathered on the Kansas were not 
numbered. I was somewhat discouraged by the accident to the 
others — You will recognize these by the large numbers without 
labels. If you could conveniently do so, it would give much addi- 
tional interest to my Report, were you to furnish me with the 
botanical names of the grasses & characteristic plants. For this to be of 
use it would be necessary for me to have it in a couple of months as my 
Report must be out by then. I do not know if it is exactly proper to 


ask this of you but I have met so many losses in my collections on 
which I relied very much, that I must do all that I can to give some 
value to my Report. Please let me hear on this" subject as soon as you 
have leisure. Will you let me know how I shall send our Geological 
specimens to Prof. Hall? or may I send the box to you if he is in 
New York ? There does not now remain much time & I am anxious 
they should be in his hands as soon as possible. The arrangements 
for our expedition go on handsomely, I am having excellent instru- 
ments made & myself engaged in hard study, among other things 
descriptive Botany & I am in every possible way forwarding my ar- 
rangements, so as to be able to take the field early in the spring. You 
may depend that I will bring you something handsome before the 
winter of '45. 

We must have the geological formation geographical position & 
elevation above the sea for all our plants. This with the colored 
figures of the new specimens will make a solid work. I also send 
you through the mail, two copies of my Report of '43 which I am 
glad to have been able to procure for you. Very truly, 

J. C. Fremont 
ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

92. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City December 3d. 1844. 

My dear Sir, 

Having received no reply to my last letters to you, I conclude you 
must be in Princeton & have not received them as they were directed 
to New York. The last package contained the catalogue of all the 
plants except a few hundred for the latter part of 1843 — which will 
be forwarded as soon as you acknowledge the receipt of the others. 
Will you have the goodness to answer by the return mail that I may 
know the fate of the Catalogue. Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 
ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 


93. George Engelmann to Asa Gray 

St. Louis Dec. 6th. 1844 
Dear Doctor 

• • • • 

I believe I have w^ritten you that I had a letter from Geyer from 
Oregon; he v^ill take his plants directly to England (and not pay his 
debts here in St. Louis, I expect!). Fremont has seen Liiders on the 
Columbia, who had lost everything he had in the river. Fremont 
himself v^^rites me that most of his plants were destroyed. It ap- 
peared somewhat singular to me, that during a stay of 8 or 10 days 
here in St. Louis he would not allow me to open and dry his mould- 
ing packages. Did he distrust me? He appears to me rather selfish— 
I speak confidentially— and disinclined to let any body share in his 
discoveries, anxious to reap all the honour, as well as undertake all the 
labour himself. He objected to take any botanist or geologist along 
with him, though the expense would hardly have been increased 
and the discoveries certainly greatly augmented, as he himself can 
not claim any knowledge of either branch, nor of zoology. This 
however is a private remark. I hope when Government does any- 
thing to explore Oregon, some competent men will be sent along, 
and I must confess I should like much to be of the party. 

Very truly yours, 

G. Engelmann 

ALS, RC (MH-G). Addressed, "Prof. A. Gray, Cambridge, Near Boston, 

94. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City Dec. 30th. 1844. 
My Dear Sir, 

I trust that because I delayed answering you for some little time 
that you will not think that I am not very anxious on the subject of 


the rocks & plants — on the contrary I am becoming more so as the 
time at my disposal becomes shorter. I have for some time past been 
too unwell to devote myself to labor & I have also very many calls 
upon my attention. 

I received your last letter with a great deal of satisfaction as it con- 
tained very many agreeable things. The determination of the fossil 
specimens which I send you, and the botanical information which I 
hope you will be able to furnish me, will enable me at once to finish 
my report. These subjects you know are spread over the whole of the 
work and as their introduction would be to rewrite the Report, I 
have deferred it until I shall receive it. Could not your friend Dr. 
Burscheim^ aid in determining the grasses &c.? I would be glad to 
allow him a proper compensation for it & in that way you might be 
saved a great deal of trouble & I would get the information in time 
besides giving him employment which would bring him some little 

I shall send boxes containing specimens for Dr. Hall by the 
Transportation line agreeably to the address you gave me & will 
let you know what time they will be in New York. He will think 
them a poor collection— but I beg you to tell him that they are 
merely the wreck of what I had obtained. I send them all to him & 
he will find among them little pieces & scraps of rock which have no 
apparent interest — but I consider every geological fact, which can be 
located, of importance in that extensive region & therefore I have 
held on to every thing. I was desirous that all of the little I would 
have to say on this subject should be based upon his authority — but 
if his time should not permit him to examine all of them the box 
marked No. 1 will contain the fossils & the others might be re- 
turned. The numbers attached to each specimen correspond with 
others in my books & if it would be of any advantage to Dr. Hall I 
could send him a list of their localities. May I beg you to mention 
to Dr. Hall the urgent want I have for the results & I must beg you 
not to be offended at my having so repeatedly pressed you for the 
botanical knowledge as I am really at a stand on account of it. I 
am anxious to get through with the business of the last campaign in 
order that I may prepare earnestly for the next. I enclose you some 
of the seeds of a species of coniferae (No. 367 of 1844) & found 
more numerously in 1843. These seeds contribute largely to the sup- 


port of Indians & I am anxious to know what the tree is. I shall be 
glad to hear from you soon — Yours very truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. Although there is but slight resemblance to the name "Burscheim," Mrs. 
Nesta Ewan believes Dr. Peter Knieskern (1798-1871) was the person in- 
tended and that Jessie, who really authored the letter, was confused in recall- 
ing the name. Knieskern, who had botanized over the New Jersey Pine 
Barrens, was evidendy rather friendly with Torrey and interested in grasses. 

95. Financial Records, 1 Jan. 1843-31 Dec. 1844 

Editorial note: Because of sheer numbers, vouchers for the period 
after 1 Jan. 1843 will not be handled as single documents, but will 
be presented in summary form with the appropriate notes keyed to 
the voucher numbers. Several of the accounts for the second expedi- 
tion were actually paid by Capt. Thomas J. Cram of the Topo- 
graphical Engineers at St. Louis, although Fremont, who had re- 
turned to Washington, furnished the requisite funds and Thomas 
Fitzpatrick helped with the arrangements (see William Henry 
Swift to Cram, 2 Sept. 1844, and Abert to Cram, 24 Sept. 1844. Lbk, 
DNA-77,LS, 7:391, 432). 

The abstract of disbursements for the quarter ending 31 March 
1843 is to be found in DNA-217, Third Auditor's Reports and Ac- 
counts, Account No. 16962. The abstracts of disbursements for the 
remaining quarters plus individual vouchers, statements of differ- 
ences, and explanations for questioned disbursements are all to be 
found on Roll 1 of DNA microfilm T-135, a special consolidated 
file of JCF's accounts relating to his expeditions and the California 
Battalion. Those pertinent to this period are to be found under two 
categories, one of which is too narrowly entitled "Claims and Ac- 
knowledgments of Payments, 1842-1845, for the First Expedition" 
and the second, "Quarterly Abstracts of Disbursements, 1843-45." 

Unless otherwise noted, all payments were made at the locale of 
the business firm or at St. Louis. 

The editors have added the t and the * to the original documents. 


The t indicates that the seller became or was a member of the 
expedition. The * indicates that Theodore Talbot certified that the 
property was "destroyed, injured, lost, &c." during the expedition. 
Talbot further certified that of the 224 head of horses and mules 
purchased for the use of the expedition, 163 were eaten, gave 
out on the road, died, or were lost or stolen. The remaining 61 were 
left on the frontier near Westport, Mo. 

Abstract of Disbursements on Account of Surveys 

West of the Mississippi 

for the Quarter Ending 31st March 1843 

No. of 



Nature of payment 

To whom paid 





Charles Preuss 





Joseph Bougar 





Charles Preuss 





Charles Preuss 





P. Chouteau, Jr. 

& Co. 





P. Chouteau, Jr. 

& Co. 





J. C. Fremont 





J. N. Nicollet 



$1860 79 

1. Payment at Washington, D.C., for services as assistant, 1 Dec. to 31 Dec. 

2. Voyageur on first expedition (see p. 158). 

3. Payment at Washington, D.C., for services as assistant, 1 Jan. to 31 Jan. 

4. Payment at Washington, D.C., for services as assistant, 1 Feb. to 28 
Feb. 1843. 

5. For purchases (such as a lodge skin, ten pack saddles, fifty lbs. of lead, 
rifle, and powder horn) and services (shoeing horses and repair of guns) 
made at Fort John on 16 and 18 July 1843. 

6. For purchases made at Fort John on the Laramie on 1 and 2 Sept. 1842. 
Such items as buckskin pants were not permitted and the total had to be re- 
duced to $48.50; yet a statement of "Differences" would indicate that only 
$28 was not allowed. 

7. Postage paid at Washington, D.C., on letter containing public accounts 
received from Chouteau and Co. in St. Louis. 


8. Payment at Baltimore, Md., for services, 1 Nov. 1842 to 10 March 1843. 

9. Because of the suspension of items in voucher no. 6, the final total was 
1,820.50, and is so shown in the endorsement. 

Abstract of Disbursemefits on Account of Military and 

Geographical Surveys West of the Mississippi for the 

Second, Third, and Fourth Quarters of 1843, 

and First, Second, and Third Quarters of 1844 

No. of 



Nature of expenditure 

To whom paid 






James R. Chilton 




Preserved meats, &c 

J. E. Flandin 






H. Chilton 




Astl. Instruments 

Frye & Shaw 




India Rubber 

Boat &c. 

Horace H. Day 





Arthur Stewart 





Charles Renard 





J. & B. Bruce 





Emory Low 





Steamer Valley 






Louis Lajoie 





Cyprian Billieau 





John T. Pigott 





Louis Menard 





A. Sloan 





N. Berthoud 




Printing blanks 

S. Penn, Jr. 





Auguste Vasquez 





Wm. G. Sholfield 





Ewd. Ploudre 





David Goodfellow 





Archibald Sloan 





A. Gallatin Boone 




No. of 



Nature of expenditure 

To whom paid 





S. V. Farnsworth 

& Co. 





George K. 






A. Meier & Co. 





Jacob Voglesang 





J. S. Mathews 





T. Salorgue 





B. W. Alexander 





Edwd. Perry & Co. 




Repairing arms 

J. & S. Havi^ken 





S. W. Meech 





James Conway 





Wm. Campbell 




Saddles, bridles, 

harnesses &c. 

Thornton Grimsley 





Ross & Cowe 





G. W. Rogers 





Joseph Cailloun 





N. Devillers & Co. 





R. O. Taylor 




Making Tents 

Z. Prevaud 





N. Tiernan 





Jos. Murphy 





John Hobson 




Instruments &c. 

Jacob Blattner 





N. Phillips 




Horse hire and 


R. Mc O'Blinis 





K. McKenzie 




E. W. & G. Poore 





F. Leonard 





E. Sisson 





Benjn. Watson 





D. W. Griffith 





Thos. Peery 




No. of 



Nature of expenditure 

To whom paid 





Mark R. C. Pulliam 




Transportation, pro- 

Steamer Col. 

visions, &c. 






Talton Turner 





James Foster 





Lucien Stewart 





George Wilson 





Phineas C. Islue 





A. B. H. Magee 





F. P. McGee 




Repairs &c. 

Gabriel Philibert 





Luther M. Carter 





L. D. W. Shaw 





James M. "Weathers 





B. McDermott 





Campbell & 






Nathl. Bowman 





Jas. T. Greenfield 





as. M. Owen 





Francis Bradley 





S. Wade 





Boone & Hamilton 





Jas. M. Simpson 





Oscar Sarpy 




Provisions &c. 

J. & E. Walsh 




Mules &c. 

Alex. Godey 





Ransom Clark 





Jas. Power 





Thos. Rogers 





Jas. Rogers 




Lodge & poles 

A. C. Metcalf 




Mules, camp equip- 

Bent & St. Vrain 

age &c. 

& Co. 





Louis Menard 





Auguste Vasquez 




No. of 



Nature of expenditure 

To whom paid 





Frangois Lajeu- 






John Campbell 





Clinton DeForrest 





Michael Creely 





Basil Lajeunesse 





Alexis Parraw 





Baptiste Tissant 






Patrick White 





Henry Lee 





William Creuss 




Provisions &c. 

Hudson Bay 






John G, Campbell 




Provisions &c. 

H. B. Brewer 





Philibert Cortot 





Thos. Fallon 





Jos. Verrot 





Oliver Beaulieu 




Incompleted entry 


Mules & horses 

John A. Sutter 





John A. Sutter 





C. W. Flugge 





Jos. B. Chiles 





Saml. Neal 





Archibald Sloan 





Baptiste Derosier 




Repairing Instru- 


Jaccard & Co. 




Horse shoes 

Milton E. McGee 





W. W. Gett 





Francis Parraw 





A. Robidoux 





Chas. Town 





Christopher Carsor 

I 885 



No. of 

Nature of expenditure 

To whom paid 

Dolls. Cts. 


Mules & Horse 

Christopher Carson 





Louis Anderson 





J. R. Walker 





Bent, St. Vrain 

& Co. 





E. T. Peery 




Transportation of 

Steamboat latan 





Thomas Cowie 





Louis Gouin Admr. 

, 167 




Saml. H. Davis 




Repg. Instruments 

C. D. Sullivan & Cc 

». 4 




Chas. Preuss 
Chas. Preuss 






J. C, Fremont 





Jacob Dodson 





Wm. Perkins 





Wm. Perkins 





Louis Montreuil 





Andreas Fuentes 





Thos. Fitzpatrick 





Alexis [Ayot 





Tiery Wright 







do & provisions 


Raphael Proue 
Alexis Godare 
Louis Zindel 





Transportation & c. 

Thos. Fitzpatrick 
C. Taplin 





Baptiste Bernier 







Entry scratched 
Entry scratched 

Robert Campbell 






Wm. Fischer 





Chas. Preuss 






No. of Amount 

voucher Nature of expenditure To whom paid Dolls. Cts. 

154 Services Theodore Talbot 986 00 

34078 38 
155 do Admr. Francois 

Sep. 19th 1844 387 00 

34465 38'^" 
J. C. Fremont 
2d. Lt. Topi. Engr. 

1. A delayed voucher for the daguerreotype apparatus purchased in New 
York and used on the first expedition (see p. 145). 

2. J. Eugene Flandin, who had accompanied Nicollet and JCF to the Min- 
nesota country in 1838, was working in his father's store when JCF pur- 
chased meats, bottled milk, and tomato sauce in New York for his second 

3. H. Chilton, a daguerreotypist in New York, to whom are credited sev- 
eral portraits in the Democratic Review (see, for example. Democratic Re- 
view, 14 [1844], opp. p. 447). 

4. The telescope and two artificial horizons survived the hazards of the 
expedition, but the two pocket compasses, barometer, and five thermometers 
purchased of Frye & Shaw, a New York firm, were broken. 

5. Besides the India rubber boat, payment was made in New York to Hor- 
ace Day for such items as a tent, water bottles, waterproof cloth, and trunks. 

6. Arthur Stewart, of New York, received $15 for repairs for a chronometer 
which had been purchased for the first expedition (see p. 140) and $200 for a 
silver pocket two-day chronometer which survived the hazards of the second 

7. Payment was made at Washington, D.C., for a large Swiss rifle. 

8. }. and B. Bruce, of Cincinnati, supplied the plain Harrison wagon which 
was abandoned at the Dalles. 

9. Emory Low, on Maine Street between Third and Fourth in Louisville, 
supplied 4,000 super percussion caps and rifle powder. 

16. Mocha coffee. 

24. Iron kettles, tin buckets, lanterns, etc. 

26. Spades, nails, axes, screws, fish lines and hooks, scissors, etc. 

27. Instrument box and frame for the India rubber boat. 

28. Goat skin trunk. 

29. For making tent poles. 

30. The figure on the original voucher is $21.55. 

31. Four French carts, pickets, poles, and tent stretchers. Overpaid $0.05. 

35. Double-barrelled shotgun. 

36. Included three "best Spanish saddles." 

37. Two sets of cart harnesses and one chronometer case which became 
broken and were abandoned at Walla Walla. 

38. For making a tent. 


39. Three beaver traps. 

40. Spices, olive oil, dried apples, and vinegar. 

41. The Marketer's House provided fifteen men with 142 meals at 12^ cents 
per meal. Overpaid $0.03. 

42. Three tents and one marquee made by Z. Prevaud. 

43. Four horse carts. 

44. Four mule carts and forty horse pickets. The twelve carts represented 
by voucher nos. 31, 43, and 44 either broke down during the journey or were 
abandoned at the Walla Walla mission. 

45. For one mule, and payment apparently made at Williamsburg in Frank- 
lin County, Kan. 

46. The two pocket compasses, ivory scale, magnet, and two pairs of bellows 
were either lost or damaged. 

47. An ensign made to order. 

49. One dozen plough lines. 

50. Fifty pounds of lead. 

51. Provisions furnished JCF's men at Fort Osage. 

52. Provisions furnished JCF's men at Camden, 17 May 1843, 

53. Payment made in Boone County. 

54. Payment received at Decatur, Howard County, Mo. 

55. Payment made at Glasgow, Mo. 

56. Payment made in Fayette County, Mo. 

57. Passage was for twenty-eight men, and payment was made at Kansas 
Landing, 18 May 1843. 

58-61. Payment made at Glasgow, Mo. 

62. Payment made at Westport Landing, 24 May 1843. 

63. No place, but probably Westport Landing. The voucher bears JCF's 
endorsement: "When I was on the frontier this receipt was sent me by the 
individual & I had no means of having it properly corrected as he left for 
California immediately afterwards." We cannot fathom the error. A. B. H. 
Magee has not been identified, but a Milton E. McGee emigrated to California 
in the Chiles party in 1843 and appears hereafter in JCF's accounts for 1844. 

64-65. Payment made at Westport Landing, 24 May 1843. 
66. Payment made at Westport, Mo. 
67-68. Payment made at Richmond, Mo., 25 May 1843. 
69. Payment made at Liberty, Mo., 25 May 1843. 
70-71. Payment made at Westport Landing. 

72. Payment made at Liberty, Mo. 

73. Payment made at Westport Landing, 27 May 1843. 

74. No place of payment given, but probably Westport. 

75. Payment made at Westport, Mo., 29 May 1843. 

Id. Payment was made at Westport for a variety of articles, but $24.69 was 
not admitted as legitimate expenditure, being items for the private use of 
individuals, such as moccasins for Henry Lee, shoes for Badeau, and a fur 
cap and silk handkerchief for Fitzpatrick. 

77. Payment made in Jackson County, Mo. 

78. Paid at Fort St. Vrain for services as a voyageur from St. Louis at $1.00 
per diem for sixty-six days, 1 May 1843 to 5 July 1843. 

79. The original voucher is for $396.33. The supplies were largely food and 
attached to the voucher was JCF's explanation: "Among the articles in this 
bill which may require explanation are first brandy & wine. These were pur- 

chased for medicinal purposes & were used accordingly in the severe weather 
which the party encountered in the winter. Macaroni is one of the best articles, 
for such a party — it is nutritious, easy to transport & goes farther than flour. 
Raisins &■ Almonds were taken to be occasionally distributed to the men as in 
the regular service, they were however but of little use, so with the cheese, 
but they were issued." 

80. Payment made at Fort St. Vrain for two mules and one Spanish 
saddle and bridle. 

81. For services as a voyageur from St. Louis to Fort St. Vrain at $0.45 per 
diem, 3 May to 24 July 1843. Although William S. Clark, the son of Ransom 
Clark, maintained that his father came to Oregon with JCF, the voucher 
would indicate that he left the expedition at St. Vrain's and must have gone 
to Oregon by some other means. He became a permanent settler except for a 
season in the California gold mines (w. s. clark). 

82. For services as a voyageur from St. Louis to Fort St. Vrain at $0.45 per 
diem for eighty days, from 3 May to 24 July 1843. 

83-84. James and Thomas [Jefferson] Rogers were father and son hunters 
■ — either Delaware or Shawnee Indians — who went as far as Fort St. Vrain 
and were paid for their services at $0.66 per diem each for sixty-one days, 1 
June to 31 July 1843. 

85. Payment made at Fort St. Vrain, 26 July 1843. 

86. Paid at Fort George, River Platte, 24 July 1843. Overcharged $30. Also, 
items to the value of $40.62 were held to be for private use and not admis- 

87. For services as a voyageur at $0.66f per diem for 493 days, 3 May 
1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

88-98. The eleven men listed in these vouchers started with JCF's expedi- 
tion, but turned back at Fort Hall on 20 Sept. All received pay from 3 May 
to 20 Nov. 1843, which was the time period calculated to permit their return 
to St. Louis. All were paid at the rate of $0.45 per diem except Basil and 
Francois Lajeunesse, who received $0.81| and $0.62^ respectively. A hawk- 
eyed auditor caught the fact that Francois had been overpaid by $0.10. 

99. For supplies of all kinds, ranging from food to items of equipment re- 
ceived at Forts Hall, Boise, Nez Perce', and Vancouver. Included was $500 
for the amount credited to Frederick Dwight at Vancouver per JCF's order. 
John McLoughlin acknowledged payment by draft of JCF on Abert, 10 Nov. 
1843. The $500 to Frederick Dwight was not admissible, of course, as a charge 
against the U.S.; neither were private items totaling $175.40. 

100. For a $4.00 saddle and for services as a voyageur from St. Louis to the 
Dalles at $0.45 per diem for 200 days, 5 May to 21 Nov. 1843. 

101. The supplies obtained from the missionary H. B. Brewer at Wascopam, 
Ore., 23 Nov. 1843, included meal, potatoes, flour, steers, etc. A $2.29 item 
for John G. Campbell was not permitted as a charge against the U.S. 

102. Cortot fCourteau] was paid for services as a voyageur from St. Louis 
to New Helvetia, Calif., at $0.45 per diem for 317 days, 3 May 1843 to 14 
March 1844. His pay was docked for forty lbs. of sugar at $0.50 per lb., 
which he had allegedly stolen from the U.S. 

103. For services as a voyageur from Fort St. Vrain to New Helvetia, Calif., 
at $0.45 per diem for 123 days, 24 July to 24 Nov. 1843, and at $0.66^ per 
diem for HI days, 25 Nov. 1843 to 14 March 1844. For biographical details 
on Fallon, see Doc. No. 137, p. 453. 

104. Paid 14 March 1844 for services as a voyageur from St. Louis to New 


Helvetia at $0.45 per diem, except from 1 Sept. 1843 to 31 Jan. 1844, when 
the per diem rate was $0.90. 

105. For services as a voyageur from St. Louis to New Helvetia at $0.45 
per diem for 317 days, 3 May 1843 to 14 March 1844. Like Courteau, his pay 
was docked for forty lbs. of sugar at $0.50 per lb., stolen from the U.S. 

107. $600 of the amount was paid at New Helvetia, 23 March 1844, to Sut- 
ter, at his request, in the form of a sight draft drawn in favor of Joseph B. 
Chiles on Robert Campbell, of St. Louis. 

108. Payment was made at New Helvetia, 23 March 1844, by drafts drawn 
on Colonel Abert. Attached to the voucher is JCF's explanation of some of 
the items. "The silver plated bridle and sweat cloth including a saddle were 
purchased by me from Capt. Sutter for my own use. It was a good saddle & I 
could obtain no other good one; it was necessary to have a Spanish bridle as 
the horses we rode were wild and unbroken. Accts. Thos. Fallen [Fallon], 
Joseph Vereau [Verrot], O. Beaulieu were private accounts. The amount paid 
to Capt. Johnson was on account of the United States & was for the hire of his 
barge & crew from Capt. Sutter's to the town of Monterrey. The amount paid 
to H. Chase [for making clothing] was private. Amount paid to Mr. Sinclair 
[buckskin pants and moccasins] was private. Buck-skin pantaloon's & mocas- 
sins for Jacob were private." A total of $182.93 had to be deducted as being 
for private use. 

109. Payment made at New Helvetia, 23 March 1843, by draft drawn on 
the Topographical Bureau. $80.25 had to be deducted as being the value of 
items for private use. 

1 10. For flour; payment made at New Helvetia. 

HI. Paid for services as a voyageur from St. Louis to New Helvetia at 
$0.50 per diem for 246 days, 3 May 1843 to 3 Jan. 1844, and at $1.00 per diem 
for 88 days, 4 Jan. to 31 March 1844. 

113. Payment made at St. Louis, 8 May 1843. 

115. This item, dated 17 May 1844, was for one pair of horseshoes, pur- 
chased "on the trail from California." 

116. Payment was made at Glasgow, Mo., 19 May 1843. 

117. Francis Parraw [Francois Perrault) was paid at Uintah Fort for services 
as a voyageur at $0.45 per diem for 398 days, 3 May 1843 to 3 June 1844. 

118. Purchases made at Uintah Fort, 4 June 1844. $15 had to be deducted 
as being the value of items for private use. 

119. Paid at "The Pueblo" for services as an assistant hunter at $1.00 per 
diem for 342 days, 25 July 1843 to 29 June 1844. Overpaid by $1. See also 
p. 446. 

120. Paid at Bent's Fort as a hunter at $2.00 per diem for 354 days, 15 
July 1843 to 2 July 1844. 

121. Purchase made at Bent's Fort, 2 July 1844. 

122. "For services {unspecified] rendered to United States from 'Lesser 
Youta Lake' to Ft. William [Bent's Fort], Arkansas R.," at $2.50 per diem 
for forty-two days, 25 May to 5 July 1844, plus an allowance of pay for 
twenty days to return to the "Snake District." 

123. For services as a guide from "The Lesser Youta Lake" to "Ft. William, 
Arkansas R." at $2.50 per diem for forty-two days, 25 May to 5 July 1844, 
plus an allowance of twenty days' pay to return to the "Snake District." Fre- 
mont also purchased two pair of horseshoes from Walker at $5.00 per pair 
(see pp. 693 and 720). 


124. Payment made at Bent's Fort, Arkansas River, 5 July 1844. $141.00 
had to be deducted as being the value of items for private use. 

125. Furnished at the Shawnee Indian Manual Labor School, Leavenworth 
agency, 31 July 1844. 

127. For services as a voyageur from Uintah Fort to St. Louis at $1.00 per 
diem for sixty-four days, 5 June to 7 Aug. 1844. For biographical details of 
Cowie, see second Report, our p. 706. 

128. Received by Louis Guion, as administrator of Tabeau's estate, for Jean 
Baptiste Tabeau's services as a voyageur at $0.45 per diem for 373 days, 3 
May 1843 to 9 May 1844. Tabeau was killed by the Indians (see p. 690). In 
the abstract for voucher no. 2 of the fourth quarter of 1844, p. 390, Tabeau's 
estate was paid an additional $150.72 for the period from his death to 6 Sept. 
1844, but the government did not recognize this as a legitimate payment and 
seems to have held JCF responsible for the illegal payment (see note on ab- 
stract of disbursements for quarter ending 31 Dec. 1844). 

129. Paid at St. Louis for services as a voyageur at $1.00 per diem for 
thirty-seven days, 4 July to 9 Aug. 1844. 

131. Paid at Washington, D.C. 

132. Paid at Washington for services as a topographical assistant at $4.00 
per diem for 519 days, 1 April 1843 to 31 Aug. 1844. 

133. For transportation of JCF's baggage from Washington to Westport, 
18 April to 17 May 1843, and from Westport to Washington, 2 Aug. to 25 
Aug. 1844. Payment made at Washington. 

134. Paid at Washington, D.C, for services as a voyageur from St. Louis 
for the round trip at $1.00 per diem for 493 days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 
Dodson was JCF's Negro servant. 

135. Payment made at Washington, D.C, for two horses sold at the Dalles, 
25 Nov. 1843. 

136. Paid at Washington, D.C, for services as a voyageur from the Dalles 
at $0.83^ per diem for 287 days, 25 Nov. 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. The William 
Perkins in this voucher and the one above is probably William, the Chinook 
Indian boy (see Doc. Nos. 124 and 128). It would be unusual for a voyageur 
to go all the way to Washington with Fremont. William Perkins went west 
again with JCF in 1845 and was discharged as a voyageur at Johnson's ranch, 
Upper Calif., 16 June 1847 (DNA-217, T-135, Roll 1, voucher no. 224). 
On several occasions Talbot mentioned William, the Chinook Indian, as being 
on the third expedition (see Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 26 May, 25 June, and 
3 July 1845, in the Talbot Papers, DLC). 

137. For services as a voyageur for the round trip at $0.45 per diem for 
493 days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

138. For services as a voyageur at $0.83^ per diem for 129 days, 1 May 
to 6 Sept. 1844. Fuentes was picked up on the Spanish Trail (p. 677). 

139. For services as guide for the round trip at $3.33^ per diem for 525 
days, 1 April 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

140. For services as a voyageur for the round trip at $0.66f per diem for 
493 days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

141. For services as a voyageur for the round trip at $0.83^ per diem for 
493 days from 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

142. For services as a voyageur for the round trip at $0.83^ per diem for 493 
days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

143. Paid at St. Louis, $820 for services as a hunter at $2.00 per diem for 
410 days, 25 July 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. $80 of the sum was for a mule which 


Godey sold to the expedition at the South Fork of the Platte on 26 July; $18 
was for pinoli (ground and parched meal) and dried meat sold to the expedi- 
tion on 25 May 1844 (for other sales by Godey, see voucher no. 80 above). 

144. For services as a voyageur for the round trip at $1.16 per diem for 493 
days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

145. JCF notes that "the item of $109.50 was the amount of expenses made 
by Mr. Fitzpatrick for board & lodging of a party of men & a drove of horses 
conducted by himself under my orders from the City of Saint Louis to the 
frontier town of Westport. The horses mentioned in the bill [$200] were the 
private property of Mr. Fitzpatrick & purchased from him [at the South Fork 
of the Platte River on 24 July 1843] for the United States." 

146. For the round trip at $0.80^ per diem for 493 days, 3 May 1843 to 6 
Sept. 1844. Overpaid by $14.79. 

147. Bernier, who had been on the first expedition, made the complete 
trip and received pay for services as a voyageur at $1.00 per diem for 493 
days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

148. For services as a voyageur and assistant hunter from Uintah Fort to 
St. Louis at $2.00 per diem for 95 days, 4 June to 6 Sept. 1844. 

151. $1,111.43, actually $1,101.93 as $9.50 was overcredited, purchased goods 
which JCF stated were "used in making presents to the Indians to facilitate 
our passage through the country according to the usual custom and in trading 
with them for horses, provisions & other necessaries & in paying guides. At 
the missionary post at The Dalles of the Columbia, I purchased with a portion 
of these goods thirty-seven horses from the Walla Walla Indians. At $40 per 
head (this being the lowest current price for horses) these amounted to 
$1480." $4,353.42 of the total was either for goods furnished to members of 
JCF's expedition or money which Campbell paid to individuals or firms who 
supplied equipment for the expedition. 

152. Purchased at Washington, D.C., 9 Sept. 1844. 

153. Paid at Washington, D.C., 10 Sept. 1844, for purchase of small items 
before the start of the expedition. 

154. Paid at Washington for services on the round trip at $2.00 per diem 
for 493 days, 3 May 1843 to 6 Sept. 1844. 

155. For services as a voyageur from St. Louis until his accidental death, at 
$1.00 per diem for 387 days, 3 May 1843 to 23 May 1844. By signed duplicates, 
Badeau's widow Angeline, with her mark, and Louis Guion, administrator 
of the estate, acknowledged receipt of the money. 

156. The sum, based on the figures as transcribed in this document, should 
read $34,464.78. The column has been overadded by $0.60, a mistake which 
JCF's auditor caught. As noted earlier, voucher nos. 30 and 79 were recorded 
incorrecdy, but the incorrect figures are used for the purpose of addition and 
the document is kept with all of its original figures and errors. 

The endorsement on the face of the document indicates that the "over- 
added," the "overpaid," "personal items," and $4,353.42 of voucher no. 151 — 
all enumerated in the notes above — amounted to a total of $5,562.17, leaving a 
balance of $28,903.21. In addition $310 and $981.93, represented by unpaid 
drafts to Sutter, were deducted from voucher nos. 107 and 108, leaving a final 
balance of $27,611.28 for the quarters represented by the abstract. Thus the 
total of $34,465.38 appears to be the cost of the second expedition. It is not 
entirely clear from the surviving documents, however, exactly how much of 
this total was eventually cleared from JCF's account and paid by the govern- 


Another voucher pertinent to this second expedition, but not given until 
3 June 1845, reflects an advanced payment of $45 to Therese Derosier. Her 
husband had wandered from the expedition's camp in California and was 
presumed to be dead. When Derosier subsequently showed up in St. Louis, 
he was paid the balance of $381 due him (see DNA-217, T-135, Roll 1, 
voucher nos. 146 [3 June 1845] and 301 [12 March 1846]). 

Abstract of Disbursements on Accomit of Military and Geograph- 
ical Surveys West of the Mississippi for the Quarter Ending 31 

Dec. 1844 

No. of 


Nature of payment 

To whom paid 

Dollars Cents 


Services as Packman 

William Martin 

98 25 


" as voyageur 

Louis Gouin, 

150 72 


Lining maps &c. 
Binding book 

John A. Blake 
Robt. Connell 
John Downes 

6 00 


10 00 

265 72 

1. For services as a packman from New Helvetia to the western frontier of 
Missouri at $0.75 per diem for 131 days, 21 March to 29 July 1844. William J. 
Martin, a member of the Oregon emigration group of 1843, which had also 
included Jesse Applegate and Peter H. Burnett, Joined Joseph B. Chiles' party 
at Fort Hall to travel by horseback to California, and reached Sutter's Fort on 
10 Nov. 1843. A voucher submitted much later by JCF indicates that he sold 
the exploring party flour and skin sacks on 23 March 1844, two days after 
joining the expedition for the return to Missouri. In 1846, Martin went west 
again and settled permanently in Oregon. In 1853, he served as Indian agent 
in the Umpqua Valley, and in 1855 as major of the volunteer northern bat- 
talion in the Rogue River Indian War (barry, 29:463, 470, 30:344-45; coan, 
33; H. ROBBiNs, 345-58). 

2. With regard to this entry a note on the voucher reads: "This Vo. No. 
2, being wholly suspended, was returned to R. Burgess, attorney for Colo. 
Fremont, 28 June 1849 per letter of that date." Tabeau's estate had already 
been paid for his services to the date of his death (see voucher no. 128, p. 
383). Even if compensation had been permitted for his widow until the time 
of the discharge of the men in St. Louis, the amount would have been only 

3. Paid at Washington, D.C., 7 Sept. 1844. 

4. Paid at Washington, D.C., 20 Sept. 1844. 

5. Paid at Washington, D.C., 25 Nov. 1844. 


96. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

Saturday Morning [1845] 
Dear Doctor, 

• • • • 

I have just turned over the Fremontian plants you send. The 
Malpighiaceae you send are not those fixd. by Bentham — and I 
should suppose not Malpighiaceae at all. I will look at them and the 
CEnothera's — some of which are new. 

As to the Cruciferous plant, the trifoliate leaves should not stand 
in the way. Look at Cardamines and Dentarias. And your plant is I 
doubt not from recollection of the figure (which is not before me) 
a Dithraea perhaps D. Californica, Harvey. That however had a reg- 
ular terminal raceme, rather low. Is yours in the natural state ? Or do 
the dense axil[lary] clusters come from the top having been bitten 

• • • • 

Yours ever, 


ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

97. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City Jany. 12th. 1845 
My Dear Sir, 

On Thursday last I sent by the transportation line a box of fossils 
for Dr. Hall. The Agent informed me that it would be in New 
York to-morrow but I could not learn whether it would be sent to 
Mr. Endicott's^ or whether it was necessary to send for it. I enclose 
a brief note relative to them which can be extended if it should be 
of use. The names which I have affixed to some of the vegetable 
fossils, depend only on my own knowledge as there is no one here 
to whom I could refer for the least information on the subject, there- 
fore Dr. Hall will know what weight to give them. If it would not 


be troublesome to him I would be glad to have them again as this 
year I shall visit the same localities in order to examine as closely 
as I am able the interesting geology of that country. He had better 
break up one of the large specimens as he u^ill find several different 
varieties of plants. Some of these appear to be entirely new. I would 
have been glad to send him all the different specimens of rocks in 
order that the little notice that I could make of the Geology on this 
occasion might depend on his authority — and I am afraid to ask too 
much of him. 

It will be quite a pleasure to hear from you whenever you find 
time. I hope that in the midst of your labors your health has been 
good which has not been altogether the case with me. In fact my ill 
health has taken away much of the energy so necessary for my 
work, which will account to you for my not having sent the speci- 
mens before. 

In the box I sent you a cone belonging to the tree from which I 
sent you the nuts or seeds. You will find one of these contained under 
each of the scales. I also put in the box a mutilated cone from what 
I supposed to be Pinus Lambertinai — leaves about 2 inches long — in 
fives. Cones 6 or 7 inches long. Yours very truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. Probably George Endicott (1802-48), New York engraver, though some- 
time in 1845 he was joined by his younger brother William. These lithog- 
raphers did the original drawings for the botanical illustrations and engraved 
eight of the plates on stone (voucher no. 232 [16 March 1848], DNA-217, 
T-135, shows that G. and W. Endicott were paid $95.75 for work done in 

98. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

Monday [12 Jan. 1845.?] 
My dear friend, 

Thanks for the numbers from Fremont's list; which came to hand 
just as the proofs were lying before me. 


Have you not made a mistake about No. 414 (1843) "Encamp- 
ment on the Arkansaw" &c. — and copied from the 1844 Hst? The 
plant is not a shrub, but a low herb. (Pyrrocoma).^ *Did Fremont 
go up the Arkansaw on his way out ? 

Save me specimens, when they will bear it, from Fremont's plants. 
At the first collection (except compositae) I only shared after Carey! 

I remain faithfully yours, 


ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). Torrey's note, added to the 
bottom of the letter, reads: *"The reference in my letter is correct. Fremont 
does not call the plant 'a shrub' — but says it forms 'bushes' — which may mean 
an herbaceous plant with a bushy look — (like Lespedeza). He went up the 
Arkansaw on his way out." 

1. Plant evidently described as Aplopappus jremontii by Gray in 1864. 

99. J. J. Abert to John }. Audubon 

[22 Jan. 1845] 
My DEAR Sir: 

There was no zoologist with Freemont. The expedition was bar- 
ren except in its geographical. Geological & Botanical materials. I 
mean to have the next managed better in these respects & to have 
some one with it who will attend to birds & beasts — we have now a 
clever young man here taking lessons in skinning birds and ascer- 
taining their sex^ although nothing new may be found in these 
branches, yet it is highly desirable to multiply Specimens. If you can 
give any hints from your experience in those regions of the best 
method of preserving skins & of transporting them, you will much 
oblige me. Most kindly to the family and truly yours, 

J. J. Abert 
22 Jan. 1845 

Copy (MoSHi — Audubon Papers). A letter to Abert from ornithologist 
John J. Audubon, written in Dec. 1844 or Jan. 1845, was not found among the 


"letters received" of the Topographical Bureau, but neither was Abert's reply 
to Audubon recorded in the letterbook. 

1. The name of the "clever young man . . . taking lessons in skinning 
birds" is not known. John Kirk Townsend (1809-51) was at work in the 
Great Hall of the Patent Office on bird skins in 1841, when the botanical 
specimens were arriving from the U.S. Exploring Expedition, but in 1843, as 
a result of controversies between the National Institution and Captain Wilkes, 
Townsend was discharged (dab; graustein, 357-58). He then obtained from 
JCF some temporary employment, 1 Dec. 1844-8 March 1845, at $2 per day, 
copying tables and astronomical observations (DNA-217, T-135, voucher no. 
13, 8 March 1845). Sometime in 1845 Townsend went back to Philadelphia 
to study dentistry. It is unlikely that Abert would refer to the author of 
Ornithology of the United States of America as a "clever young man," par- 
ticularly when writing to Audubon, who had pictured some of Townsend's 
new birds from Oregon in the last volume of Birds of America (New York, 

100. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

Tuesday Evening. 28th Jany. [1845] 
My Dear Friend, 

• • • • 

I have today written to Hooker, directing his attention to your full 
account of the plant — enquiring w^hether Fremontia has not the 
priority, and requesting Hooker, at any rate to reprint your ac- 
count of the plant, as it completes its history. I do not see that Lind- 
ley adds anything even to what they knew abroad, for Schlechtendal 
in Bot. Zeit. says it is Hooker's Batis vermicularis. 

• • • • 

There must be some mistake in the numbering of the No. 414. 
Fremont. It is a very low herb — a new Pyrrocoma — which it is new 
to find on this side of the Rocky Mts. — tho' not surprising. I let 
the locality slip by without mentioning it, in my little paper — of 
which I will send a copy in a few days. 

Excuse this way of writing. Goodnight. Yours ever. 

A. Gray 

ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 


101. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City February 7th. 1845 
My Dear Sir, 

This will be handed to you by Dr. James McDowell son of the 
Govr. of Virginia who is to accompany me as surgeon in my next 
expedition. My Report is about to be ordered in the Senate and as I 
am obliged to publish it before I go I know you will not feel yourself 
urged if I beg you to assist me by giving what information you can 
relative to the botany of the country in order that I may give to it as 
much interest & value as possible & in some degree proportioned to 
the interest which has been raised in regard to it. Mr. McDowell 
happening to have a few days of leisure I prevailed on him to go 
to New York for the purpose of seeing as he could better explain to 
you than I how much pressed I am for time & how much indebted 
I would be for your assistance. 

There will be about 10,000 copies of the Report ordered — & as it 
will be widely disseminated I am exceedingly anxious it will go 
out with every advantage our limited time can give us. Very truly 


J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. Dr. James McDowell was the nephew of Mrs. Thomas Hart Benton. His 
wife, the daughter of Joshua B. and Sarah Benton Brant, was the great-niece 
of Thomas Hart Benton. Young McDowell, who had been practicing medi- 
cine in St. Louis, was described by Alfred Waugh, the artist who wanted so 
much to join JCF's third expedition, as being "a tall, well made young man, 
with rather a handsome face, of a good healthy complexion, and pleasant 
countenance" (waugh, 9, 18). 

102. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington Feby. 12. 1845 

Brevet Captain J. C. Fremont of the Corps of Topographical Engi- 
neers, is hereby assigned to command and direction of the contem- 


plated expedition to the Rocky Mountains. He is assigned thereto, 
according to his brevet rank, and the pay and allowances of his 
brevet rank are hereby recognized, by order of the Secretary of War 
in this order of assignment. 

Two Lieutenants of the Corps will also be assigned to the duty.^ 
As a Commutation for transportation, fuel and quarters, Captain 
Fremont will receive $1.50 per day, and each Lieutenant one dollar 
per day. This commutation to commence on the arrival of each at 
Independence, Missouri, and to continue during the duties in the 
field, to be paid out of the appropriation for the expedition and sur- 

Mr. Talbott formerly with the expedition can be employed at two 
dollars per day, and Mr. McDowell as surgeon and Physician, at a 
compensation of three dollars per day. These allowances to com- 
mence on the date of their orders from Captain Fremont. Ten cents 
per mile for transportation can be paid to each of these persons 
from Washington to Independence, Missouri, and back to Washing- 
ton on the termination of the expedition, provided said back trans- 
portation shall not exceed the distance from Independence, Mo. to 
Washington. No other persons will be employed except as engagees 
and hired men, unless on the special representation of Captain Fre- 
mont by letter to the Bureau, and the approval of the War Depart- 
ment.^ The engagees and hired men of the expedition will not 
exceed fifty .^ 

The general outline of Captain Fremont's duties are indicated in 
the annual report from this office. He will strike the Arkansas as 
soon as practicable, survey that river, and if practicable survey the 
Red River without our boundary line, noting particularly the navi- 
gable properties of each, and will determine as near as practicable 
the points at which the boundary line of the U. S. the 100th degree 
of longitude west of Greenwich strikes the Arkansas, and the Red 
River. It is also important that the Head waters of the Arkansas 
should be accurately determined. Long journies to determine iso- 
lated geographical points are scarcely worth the time and the expense 
which they occasion; the efforts of Captain Fremont will therefore 
be more particularly directed to the geography of localities within 
reasonable distance of Bents Fort, and of the streams which run east 
from the Rocky Mountains, and he will so time his operations, that 
his party will come in during the present year. 

All specimens collected by the expedition, will be preserved and 


brought to Washington, subject to the ulterior orders of the War 
Department; and all reports will be delivered to Captain Fremont; 
no publications will be permitted by any of the party, except in the 
report from Captain Fremont. 

Captain Fremont is hereby authorized to draw upon the Depart- 
ment, as the duties shall require means. 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T.E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 8:211-13). Some of the documents following this one 
deal wholly or in part with JCF's projected third expedition, which will carry 
him west again in 1845. As he was planning the third while cleaning up paper 
work on the second, we have retained such documents to preserve chronologi- 
cal unity. 

1. See Doc. No. 118 (10 April 1845), notifying JCF that Lieuts. James W. 
Abert and William Guy Peck were ordered to report to him. 

2. See Doc. No. 106 (5 March 1845), approving the employment of a 
"Botannical Colourist" for the expedition. 

3. See Doc. No. 105 (1 March 1845), noting that an error had been made 
and that the engages and hired men of the expedition were not to exceed 
forty. On 10 April, JCF was given permission to detach a party to explore the 
southern Rocky Mountains and the regions south of the Arkansas, and to 
increase his party by ten men; on 26 May, he was given greater discretion as 
to the size of the party, should he find it advantageous to make detachments 
from his command (see Doc. Nos. 118 and 136). 

103. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City Feby. 26th 1845 
My Dear Sir, 

Will you have the kindness to forward to Prof. Hall, a box which 
I have sent to Mr. Endicott. I have the pleasure to hear from Dr. 
Hall, who is getting on well with the fossils. 

I enclose a form of the receipts used by the Department & if [you] 
will please have it receipted for amount paid in the transportation of 
the boxes I will send on the draft immediately. 

I send you a fragment of the Californian poppy, as I suppose it to 
be, Eschscholtzia Crocea. 

I suppose the specimens were so much injured that even this may 
help. I will send you in an envelope this evening a few plants which 
I have found among my books — & which were forgotten, (Campa- 


nula meda) ? Rocky Mts. abundant. (Viola Canina?) Rocky Mts. 
A strawberry Rocky Mts. In addition to the above will be a fragment 
(all that is left) of a very interesting leguminous plant with a deep 
yellow flower. It is highly characteristic in certain portions of the 
Rocky Mt. region. 

The plants will come in a public document. 

I have also some additional seed vessels of the new Accacia if you 
desire them — You will have to search carefully in order to find the 
plants. Yours truly, 

}. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

104. Fremont to John Torrey 

367. 1844 A remarkable species. Without cones. Probably a Pinus 
though the leaves are almost all solitary! — only two or 
three being found double in the same sheath. 

Washington City Feby. 26. 1845. 

My Dear Sir, 

In looking over the list of plants the words which I have under- 
scored in the above struck me for the first time to-day, & I [have] 
to tell you that in the first box of fossils which I sent some weeks 
ago to Dr. Hall, was a cone for you in good preservation belonging 
to that tree. As there were many specimens of the same tree the cone 
was probably referred to another number. I also sent you some fruit 
or seeds of the same in a letter. I am very much interested in this 
particular tree. Among the plants was a small bundle or sheaf of 
sweet scented grass from Grand [Colorado] river of the Rocky Mts.^ 
It was not labelled. Can you tell me its name ? Can you tell me the 
botanic name of what is commonly called in the west Bufifalo grass ? 
A very short succulent curled grass having a small reddish blossom. 
Yours very truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 
1. Hierochloe odorata (L.) Beauv. Sweetgrass. 


105. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington March 1. 1845 

I find an error in my letter to you of the 12th February. It is 
there said that "the engagees & hired men of the expedition will not 
exceed fifty." I cannot account for this error, as the understanding 
between us was that the number of this class should not exceed 
forty. You will please therefore to understand this number as limited 
to forty. Respectfully Sir Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 8:234). 

106. }. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington March 5. 1845 

I have submitted your letter of the 5th inst. to the Secretary of 
War and in reply have to state that the Secretary approves of the 
employment of a Botanical Colourist for the expedition at a com- 
pensation of three dollars the day.^ You are therefore hereby au- 
thorized to employ one. Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 8:236). 

L JCF's letter of 5 March not found, but the register indicates that it had 
merely recommended the employment of a botanical colorist at $3 per day. 


107. Fremont to George Talcott 

Washington City March 10th 1845 
Dear Sir, 

Dr. James McDowell of Virginia, who has been appointed Sur- 
geon to the Expedition will also act incidentally as Naturalist. Sev- 
eral gentlemen of distinguished science from various parts of the 
country, have made application to accompany the Expedition, but 
considering the appropriation as purely for Geographical purposes, 
the Department has declined making any such appointments. Very 
respectfully Sir Your Obdt. Servt., 

J. C. Fremont 
Col. G. Talcott 
Ordnance Dept. 

ALS-JBF, RC (DNA-156, LR, lO-F-1845). Endorsed, "Returns letter of 
J. Eights . . ." with summary of letter. James Eights, M.D. (1798-1882), son 
of Jonathan Eights, was a member of the Albany Institute and a friend of 
John Torrey. 

108. Fremont to John Torrey 

[Thursday night, 13 March 1845] 
My Dear Sir, 

I have this moment, near midnight, received your pacquet & 
thanking you very warmly en passant for it I hasten to tell you that 
looking first at the end of your letter I was surprised to find the Doc- 
ument on Coals which reached you contained no plants. They were 
very carefully put between uncut leaves, & most of them were in 
brown paper envelopes. Did you first open the Document yourself 
or could it have been opened previously ? They were enclosed in the 
Report on Coals as Col. Benton thought it would be agreeable to 
you to look over it. I will write to you again soon & in the meantime 
remain very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 
Thursday night March 13th. [1845] 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 


109. Fremont to [Edward M. Kern] 

Washington City March 20th. 1845 
Dear Sm, 

I had already decided, before seeing Mr. GHddon^ to give you the 
appointment of artist to our expedition. I have great confidence in 
the judgment of Mr. Drayton," who knows perfectly well what 
qualifications are necessary, & recommended you strongly. I like the 
specimens you sent & judge from them that you sketch rapidly & 
correctly. I will send you your appointment in a few days, & should 
like to see you before you go to the West. I will let you know at 
what time you had better pass through here. I think it would be well 
for you to employ what leisure time you have, in making yourself 
so far instructed, with the structure of plants as to know what par- 
ticular parts will require most care in your drawings. I need not tell 
you that in the field your occupations will be constant & laborious 
but I think that your duties will also in many respects be agreeable. 
Very respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NHi). The young Philadelphian Edward Kern (1823-63) 
served not only as artist but also as topographer and cartographer to the third 
expedition, and, when many of its members became involved in the conquest 
of California, Kern was placed in command of the garrison at Sutter's Fort, 
temporarily called Fort Sacramento. After the court-martial of JCF, Kern per- 
suaded two of his brothers, Richard H., also an artist and drawing teacher, 
and Benjamin }., a physician, to accompany JCF's fourth expedition to Cali- 
fornia. Later Edward served with the Navy in the Ringgold-Rodgers and 
Brooke expeditions to Japan, Siberia, and various Pacific islands, and in the 
Civil War. For a biography of Kern, see heffernan; for his role in American 
expansion, see hine. 

1. George Robbins Gliddon (1809-57), a former U.S. consul at Cairo, was 
a noted archeologist and lecturer on Egyptian antiquities. Edward M. and 
Richard H. Kern had prepared the illustrations for CJliddon's hierological lec- 
tures (nott & GLIDDON, xxxviii). 

2. Edward M. Kern's friend, Joseph Drayton, had worked in Philadelphia 
as an engraver, portrait painter, and artist until 1838, when he joined the 
Charles Wilkes expedition. At its conclusion in 1842 he went to Washington 
to work on the illustrations. The 1845 edition of Wilkes' narrative includes 
sixty-one woodcuts from Drayton's sketches (arrington; groce & Wallace). 
Kern sought Drayton's advice on the proper clothing and artist's supplies to 
take on the western expedition (Kern to Drayton, draft, 20 March 1845, and 
Drayton to Kern, 22 March 1845, both in CSmH — Fort Sutter Papers). 


110. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City March 23d. 1845 
My Dear Sir, 

I am delighted to know that you are at Princeton. The letters you 
have sent since you arrived there have been of great value to me — 
many of the plants you have determined were characteristic & very 
many are interesting. Purshia trid[entata] for instance, extends over 
a great portion of the country west of the Rocky Mts. Fremontia 
vermicularis with other saline shrubs is very abundant & in many 
places highly characteristic — the leaves of this plant have a very salty 
taste which perhaps you do not know. I think that the shrubs of that 
country, are very great in variety, & form probably the most inter- 
esting portion of the plants. Will you not give to the Pinus Pifion 
the name of your botanical friends — Will you not designate the 
Acacia by some name. No. 509 1844, is a plant, the root of which is 
extensively used by the Indians as an article of food, under the 
names of Racine a Tabac and Black root.^ It has broad oblong racinal 
leaves & a bulbous root — many specimens unnumbered — perhaps 
you might determine it. 

No part of my report will go to the press before the end of this 
month & then I will print very slowly in order that we may avail 
ourselves as much as possible of your determinations. No. 149 — 1844. 
This was from a large oak three feet in diameter" — specimen taken 
in the first days of April — bears a slender acorn three quarters of an 
inch to an inch & a half long — which has a pleasant flavor. The 
Indians gather it in enormous quantities & I enclose you a rough 
sketch from our botanical artist that you may judge how we shall 
do. I will write you a desultory line very frequently & am with much 
respect truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). In a CLSM manu- 
script draft of this letter, also in Jessie's hand, JCF speaks of having "been 
oppressed with a headache for several days." 

1. Valeriana ciliata Torr. & Gray. 

2. Quercus lobata Nee; valley oak. First collected in the Monterey region 
in 1792 by two officers of the Malaspina expedition, Robredo and Esquerra, 
later praised by Vancouver, and following JCF's contact with the oak, it was 
described as a new species, 0. longiglanda Torr. & Frem., although Torrey 
could hardly have been ignorant of this beautiful species. 


111. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington March 25. 1845 

A requisition for five thousand dollars was yesterday made in 
vour favor to be placed to your credit in the Bank of Missouri, at St. 

This is the most that can be put to your credit from the appropria- 
tion of 1844. The appropriation of 1845 w^ill not be available till on 
and after the 1st day of July next. For the additional means required 
for the expedition under your command, you will have to draw on 
this Bureau payable on the 1st July. Your drafts will be duly paid. 
Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt., 

J. J. Abert 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 8:270). 

112. Fremont to John Torrey 

[Thursday, 27 March 1845] 
[Washington City] 
My dear Sir, 

Yours of the 25th from New York, I have this moment received & 
immediately reply in order that you may lose no time in having 
the Fremontia engraved — which I beg you will have commenced 
at once. Will you accompany it with a description ? If so I will send 
you a list of the localities to which it belonged — general & partic- 

I will write again by to nights mail & send by the same a Pub. 
Doc. containing plants. Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 
Thursday March 27th 1845 
Washington City 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBC;— Torrey Correspondence). On the following day, 
28 March 1845, Torrey wrote to Gray: "I have run over Fremont's plants, & 


furnished him the names of such as could be made out with a cursory 
examination. There are many interesting shrubs from the mountains, that are 
quite new to me. What a pity they are in so sad a condition! I recognized 
Cowania (allied to Purshia) among them & several of which I don't know the 
natural order! There were roots of Lewisiae evidently alive, & I am putting 
them in some earth for you. Just now they look pretty vigorous. There were 
also several bulbs that are now growing finely. You shall have them all in 
due time. The number of curious Oaks in the Collection is considerable — & 
some must be quite new . . ." (rodgers, 165). 

113. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City 
March 30th. 1845 
My Dear Sir, 

I was not able to distinguish any difference between the blue 
flax of the Rocky Mt. Country, & the common blue flax of cultiva- 
tion/ Will you tell me if I shall do wrong in calling it Linum 
Usitatissimum .-^ If you have it at hand please send one when next 
you write, a little piece of Lynosiris graveolens.^ With respect I am 
Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. H. G. Baker has discussed "Charles Darwin and the Perennial Flax — a 
Controversy and Its Implications," involving Linum perenne and L. lewisii 
in H««^/a, 2 (1965): 141-61. 

2. Linosyris, Chrysothamnus graveolens (Nutt.) Greene; rabbit-brush. 

114. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City April 4th 1845 
My dear Sir, 

I have the pleasure to acknowledge your last letter of the 31st 
containing your final determinations. I trust with you that we shall 
not find it necessary to make any sacrifices at the end of the next 


campaign— at the same time it is really wonderful to me that you 
have been able to make out so many of this collection, but the beau- 
tiful condition in which you will see those of the next, will be some 
amends for your labor. As we do not publish any appendix, I sup- 
pose you will think it not advisable to annex Dr. Grey's pamphlet 
to the report. I hope that you will succeed with the plate of the 
Fremontia. You know that can always be put in at the last hour. We 
shall require certainly ten thousand, & probably twenty thousand im- 
pressions. I enclose a little note, on which I beg you to put the an- 
swers to the questions, if there are any, and enclose it back to me. 
They refer to your last determinations. I made some unaccountable 
mistake in not sending you the missing numbers which shall be 
forwarded. All my manuscripts are complete. Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont. 
ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

115. Fremont to Mrs. Townsend 

Friday 4th April [1845?] 
Dear Mrs. Townsend, 

I thank you for your kind enquiry. I have been quite ill but only 
with the grippe. Its serious results have been the necessity to remain 
indoors and the incessant headaches it leaves. And I cannot get quite 
clear of the cough. But Dr. Martin has given me some medicine 
which acts like a charm and by Monday I shall be out again. 

Pray thank Mr. Townsend for me. I would be glad to come over 
and take my cold with him. Any little excitement is pleasant to the 
newspapers. I do not easily see how they got me put on the invalid 
list. Barring this little ailment I am thoroughly sound, as you will 
see when I report. Sincerely yours, 

}. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (James S. Copley Collection, La Jolla, Calif.). The recipient was 
probably Charlotte Holmes Townsend, wife of John Kirk Townsend. 


116. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City — April 7th. 1845 

My dear Sir, 

I received safely your letter and the package containing plants, 
which I delayed acknowledgeing as I had just written you a line. 
The chenopodiaceous shrubs as you have probably judged form 
a striking feature in the vegetation of the country, and I will take 
some pains in having them well figured. There will be a greater 
number of the Fremontia plate required, than I supposed — I find 
we shall want 11,335. I am glad that you found a good piece of the 
plant. Col. Benton says it will give him pleasure to send you any 
documents that may be of interest. I am my dear Sir Very truly 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

117. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City April 8th 1845. 
My dear Sir, 

I received your letter of the 4th last night. As we cannot make full 
use of our botany for the present report I only refer slightly to the 
plants in the course of the narrative, rarely mentioning any other 
than are very characteristic — but I suppose it will be well to secure 
such as the Pinon pine, and the Spirolobium and I was desirous to 
have your advice as to the manner in which I should mention them. 
That is to say, I should like to know the briefest form, which would 
shew that you had examined them, & that they rest upon your au- 
thority. Will the manner in which you give 'Spirolobium Torr. & 
Frem." be sufficient? In the preface I have stated that all the plants 
were in your hands and that whatever was said in regard to botany 
rested on your authority — but that there had not been sufficient time 
for you to prepare a full botanical account, which would be deferred 
until the next report. 


I think that S. odorata is the best name for the tree, as its fragrance 
is very deUghtful & remarkable. 

I am making every effort to get out at the end of this month but 
am very much pressed by business. I find it difficult to restrain my 
impatience when I see every thing coming into bloom & remember 
how many beautiful things for us [lie] beyond the Mississippi. In the 
mean time I am organizing my camp on the frontier and collecting 
my horses there. I go out this time well equipped — I have some 
beautiful instruments and my longitudes will not have any longer 
to depend much on chronometers. I will either send you a proof or a 
copy of the map before I leave. I hope that I shall have an early 
reply to the question in this & in the meantime remain very respect- 
fully & truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont. 

I think that I have seen varieties of the Spirolobium in that coun- 
try, but will defer being certain until I get there again. 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

118. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington April 10. 1845 

On arriving at Bents Fort, if you find it desirable, you will detach 
a Lieutenant & party to explore the Southern Rocky mountains and 
the regions South of the Arkansas, under such instructions as your 
experience shall suggest. You are also authorized to increase your 
party by 10 or more men, if desirable on arriving at Bents fort, and 
to make such additional outlay as the condition of the expedition 
and the duties shall require. It is extremely desirable that you should 
be in before the adjournment of the next session of Congress in 
order that if any operations should be required in that Country, the 
information obtained may be at command. 
Lieuts. Abert & Peck have been ordered to report to you.^ 
Your attention will be given to the military peculiarity of the 
Country which you shall examine, in reference to which you will 


probably be required to make a separate report. Respectfully Sir 
your Obt. Servt., 

J. J, Abert 
Col. Corps. T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 8:296-97). 

1. James W. Abert, son of the chief of the Corps of Topographical Engi- 
neers and a graduate of Princeton and West Point, would command the de- 
tached expedition and leave an account of the journey under the title "Journal 
of Lieutenant J. W. Abert, from Bent's Fort to St. Louis, in 1845," published in 
1846 as Senate Doc. 438, 29th Cong., 1st sess. A map was included, apparently 
engraved from the same plate as the large map in Fremont's Report. Resign- 
ing from the Army in 1864, Abert became a merchant in Cincinnati, and in 
the 1870s a professor of English literature at the University of Missouri. After 
William Guy Peck (d. 1892) returned with young Abert, he was attached to 
the "Army of the West," under Brigadier General Kearny; he then taught 
mathematics at the Military Academy until his resignation from the Army 
in 1855. This was followed by a long career as a professor of mathematics, 
principally at Columbia College (cullum). 

119. Fremont to John Bailey 

Washington City April 11th. 1845 
My dear Sir, 

Will you excuse a very brief letter in the pressure of business? 
Your pacquet of the 3d. which has been unusually long in coming, 
was received only this afternoon. I am very much gratified with 
your interesting results, and in the manner of communicating them 
I beg you will take the course which you think proper as that will 
also be the most agreeable to me — making them known to the 
Geological Society will undoubtedly be the best method, & we can 
also insert an article in my report and publish with it such plates as 
you will be able to prepare. Shall I publish the contents of the letter 
you sent me, merely changing the form.? or will you write a few 
words of a general character, introducing it. You know I am not 
at all familiar with this Science — I might make some error, although 
I should be very guarded and send you the proof sheets. I shall try to 
inform myself a little on this interesting subject — I am reading the 
proofs of the first part of the report now — but your reply to this 
would be in time as the printer will not reach that part of the Report 


for ten days yet, and as the map will not be finished by the Lithog- 
rapher for six weeks yet, you will have sufficient time to prepare the 
figures for the engraver. Endicott in New York is engraving some 
of our fossils and if agreeable to you, you could send the drawings 
to him. 

I shall probably leave the frontier on this expedition, before the 
work is published but arrangements will be made for these things in 
my absence. You may be assured that I will bring you a beautiful 
collection when I return and I expect it will give you a long work, 
as the specimens will be continuous and from widely extended lo- 
calities. I am with great respect, very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (Museum of Science, The Library, Science Park, Boston — 
John Bailey Papers). 

120. Fremont to John Torrey 

[ca. 15 April 1845] 

My dear Sir, 

Your letters of the 10th, & 13th, were received together last night. 
Far from wearying of your letters I never see the handwriting on the 
address without pleasure and your enthusiasm for botany hardly sur- 
passes my own, although scarcely justified by my slight knowledge. 
As you know [now] have the most leisure please write whenever you 
have any suggestion or information to communicate and I will an- 
swer as promptly as pressing business will now permit. I [now] an- 
swer seriatim. Unless Geyer be the German botanist I have no idea 
who it can be, but we will try in the coming expedition to go beyond 
him. I will send you the notes on the Fremontia to night and will 
take care about the extra copies, and those of the report. I like your 
idea of publishing from time to time when I am gone and if I can 
make a safe opportunity I will send you a collection from the foot of 
the mountains in the summer. We can arrange to have as many 
plates paid for as you choose to prepare and I will engage a friend 
to attend to it in my absence. I send you the only copy of Nicollet's 
report we have by us — if you mean Espy's report for 1841^ I can also 


send you a copy of that. In reply to your note of April 11th I am 
greatly pleased with your plan for a popular work as supplement to 
Michaux." I am satisfied that there is a large and extraordinary vari- 
ety of trees. The Government will pay for the plates. 

In reply to April 13th I'll be glad to get your descriptions — they 
will form what we really want for the present work. A brief notice 
of the value of the Botany and a few descriptions (authorized) of 
plants that we ought not to lose. I am with great respect Very cor- 
dially yours, 

J. C, Fremont 

Please send me any of the plants you mentioned. The express will 
bring them to me very carefully. The unnumbered specimens of 
Tobacco root or black root (Valeriana) were not among the Kansas 
plants — they were gathered about the 26th May 1844, on the Utah 
lake, west of the Rockies. 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. Probably James P. Espy (1785-1860), who developed the convectional 
theory of precipitation and in 1842 became meteorologist to the War Depart- 
ment. It was in 1843 — not 1841 — that he submitted the first annual weather 
report. His Philosophy of Storms was published in 1841, but by a private 
firm — C. C. Little and J. Brown of Boston. 

2. Silviculturist and botanist Francois Andre Michaux (1770-1855) made 
several voyages of travel and study in the eastern United States and was the 
author of Histoire des arbres jorestiers de V Amerique septentrionale (Paris, 
1810-13), better known as The North American Sylva. It was later supple- 
mented by Thomas Nuttall. 

My dear Sir, 

121. Fremont to John Torrey 

Washington City April 18th, 1845. 

You are perfectly right about the black root, it needed only the 
smell of the little piece you sent to recognise the plant. In regard to 
the plates Col. Benton desired me to tell you, that he has no doubt 
Congress will pay for everything of that kind. 

I have always something to ask you. Will you perhaps remember, 
my having sent you when you were at New York, two little plants, 


the first I saw in bloom in coming out of the snows of the Cahfornia 
Mts/ I cannot, after much searching lay my hand on your letter, giv- 
ing them their names, and I am afraid it will come up, when it is too 
late, and perhaps you can still tell me what they were. 

I have made up my mind to send you from the foot of the moun- 
tains, through Bent's Fur Company the plants I shall collect up to 
that point. I see that many of the trees, particularly some fine oaks, 
you think are new, and as we have passed over the country several 
times, we should not let any one anticipate us in publishing them. If 
you find leisure to send me any pieces of our plants, they will reach 
me safely through the express, and will be very useful guides to me. 

Please let me hear soon in answer to my question: and I will give 
you any specific information you desire to have in regard to any 
arrangement you may like to make about the plates. 

In that, we may do any thing we like. Yours very truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS-JBF, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. Sarcodes sanguinea Torr.; snow plant. Described in Plantae Fremontiance 
(New York, 1853), 18, and there accompanied by a fine plate executed by 
Isaac Sprague. 

122. Fremont to Stephen Cooper 

Washington City April 22d 1845 

Dr. Sir: 

Col. Benton tells me that you have accepted an appointment in my 
party, and I am glad to have with me a man for whom he has so 
high an opinion, as I have no doubt that on this trip we shall need 
men of the best quality and we must try to have no other. 

Dr. McDowell, one of Col. Benton's nephews who goes with us, 
is about to go into the interior of Missouri to purchase animals, and I 
would be glad for him to have the benefit of your judgment, as you 
know exactly what kind we want. He is now at Saint Louis and I 
write to night to tell him to meet you at Jefferson. Therefore if it is 
convenient to you, you had better leave home immediately and join 


him there. Your salary will be $2.00 per diem, and it will commence 
the day you leave home on this business. Very respectfully Your 
obedient Servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Capt. U. S. Army 

ALS-JBF, RC (C). Endorsed, "Received May the 25 1845 left hoam may the 
28th [signed] Maj. Stephen Cooper." A Kentuckian by birth, Stephen 
Cooper had been active in the Santa Fe trade in the 1820s, Indian subagent 
at Council Bluffs in the 1840s, and had just completed a term (representative 
from Adair County) in the Missouri legislature when JCF's letter arrived. 
He had a reputation of being "an old and experienced woodsman, and a bold 
yet cautious man." As he served in Abert's detachment of JCF's third expedi- 
tion, he returned to Missouri in the fall of 1845, but in 1846 emigrated with 
his wife and children to California, where he had a varied career as alcalde in 
Benicia, judge of the Sonoma district, miner at Park's Bar, and justice of the 
peace in Colusa (Missouri Republican, 7 June 1845; pioneer register). In 
view of this letter and the endorsement, it is hard to justify the payment for 
"extra services or services prior to 28 May 1845" which he received on 2 Nov. 
1845 (see DNA-217, T-135, voucher no. 274, 2 Nov. 1845). 

123. Asa Gray to John Torrey 

Cambridge, Wednesday morning, 23 April [1845] 
My Dear Torrey, 

• • • • 

Now as to the Fremontese plants. I fear I cannot make them a 
study so as to aid you; certainly not at this moment. I fear I can only 
answer specific questions. 

New gen. Papaveraceae. That should be noticed. There is a new 
Gen. Papav. Calif. Coulter described in Lond. Jour. Bot. for Feb., 
Rom?jeya, Harvey. But the plate of it is not yet given. I have been 
trying for a week to get to Boston to look at the Journal & say if 
yours be it (my copy is sent to Sullivant.) but have not made out yet. 
I will try to go tomorrow, yet that is lecture day. 

I will then compare your queer Crucifera with Dithraea, Harv. If 
my memory serves the leaves are same (there are plenty of car- 
damines with compound leaves & the leaflets petiolulate). I remember 


the figure of that had a loose terminal raceme. I will compare in 

No. 301 (1843) may well be Gaura coccinea — no doubt. 

No. 560 {\%¥i)—(Enothera montana, Nutt (ex. descr.) The sub- 
sessile & not having pods should distinguish it from CE. marginata 
(which you have a specm. of). 

No number — a starved CE. Missouriensis. Possibly new; probably 

751, & 753— Either CE pallida or albicaulis var. (Nuttall has con- 
fused the two a little.) 

No number — (E n. sp. (place next Jamesii). 

81 ( 1 843 ) —CE. Missouriensis. 

337 (1844)— CE. alyssoides. Hook. Agrees better with a Snake 
Country specimen I have than with Hooker's figure. 

No number— CEnothera (Chylismia) n. sp. diff. from Nuttall's 
(you can compare). It sustains that section beautifully. Call it CE. 
Fremontii or sisymbrioides or erysimoides. 

Another without number, with the foliage &c. somewhat of Gaura 
coccinea, the flowers &c. of [ ?], will form a new subsection (between 
Kneiffia and Lavauxia — a very distinct plant. (E. caiiescens, Say. It 
has an ovate, shapely 4-angled fruit, which is I think septicidal. 

782 (1843) Gayophytum diflusum Torr. & Gr.— (but with larger 

257 (1844) Ribes irriguum. 

Your Krameria (no. 425, 1844) is ?iot that of Bentham pi. Hart- 
weg, but most likely it is K. parvifolia, Benth. Voy. Sulphur, p. 6, 1. 
(he has no flowers: you have no fruit). Did yours come from the 
Calif, side of mts. 

He (Benth. Sulphur) has no Malphigiacea except the two I have 
already mentioned, neither of which are yours. 

This is all I can do for you today. You will readily enough gather 
what ones, thus far, it is worth while to notice. 

If you wish me to draw up characters of the CEnothera I will do 
so, if you will let me know at once and send with the specimens on 
Monday next. 

The London Hortic. Socy. are about to send Hartweg^ to collect in 
Oregon and California. 

Is the spec, of Pinus Pigfion [Pinon] to be returned, or no.'^ I don't 


like the name Pignoti, which is not aboriginal, but voyageur French ! 
In haste. Yours ever. 

A. Gray 

I fear I can give you no new Hght about the Malpighiaceae. Love to 
all! Why does not Mrs. T. write .f* 

ALS, RC (NNNBG— Torrey Correspondence). 

1. Carl Theodor Hartweg (1812-71) and his role in exploration in Cal- 
ifornia and Mexico is noticed by H. R. Fletcher in his Story of the Royal 
Horticultural Society, 1804-1968 (London, 1969), 88-89, 152-53, and passim. 

124. Thomas H. Benton to [William L. Marcy] 

Washington City, April 25. 1845 
The Hon. Sec. at War, 

Capt. Fremont brought on with him from Oregon, at the request 
of some missionaries, a young Indian man of the Chinook tribe, and 
promised to have him sent back after making some progress in the 
knowledge of our language and customs, and learning something of 
our government and people. The time has now come for returning 
him, which will require some expense to enable him to travel with 
some emigrant party from the frontiers of Missouri. Two horses at 
$50. each, and saddle and pack saddle & other horse equipment $50 
more — a supply of clothes — means to procure his subsistence along 
the road, both to purchase and to kill — guns — presents to carry home 
with him — in all about $500 might be sufficient; and I think the 
policy and the honor of the U. S. requires him to be well treated and 
sent home favorably impressed in regard to us. He is the son of a 
chief of a leading tribe on the Pacific, and has come far to see our 
government & people, and should carry home good accounts. Capt. 
Fremont could consign him to the excellent Indian agent. Major 
Cummins,^ of the Delawares; and the contingent, or present fund 
may furnish the means. Yours truly, 

Thomas H. Benton. 

ALS, RC (DNA-75, LR, Oregon B-2422 1845). Two endorsements: the 
first is routine, the second reads, "I am induced to advise this expenditure 


under the existing circumstances of our Territorial Rights in Oregon. They 
appear to me to justify an appropriation of money to the use of so young an 
Indian (whose people at home probably do not know what money is,) that 
in an ordinary state of things would seem to me to be extravagant. 26. Ap. 
'45 [signed] T. Hardey Crawford. Allow $300 in this case. 26 Apl. 45. 
[signed] W. L. Marcy." 

1. Richard W. Cummins, a friend of Benton's, was in charge not only of 
the Delawares but also of the Shawnees, Kickapoos, and other tribes in the 
Fort Leavenworth agency. 

125. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington April 26, 1845 

Your letter of the 26th was duly received and referred to the 
Ordnance Department, which Department has recommended that 
[you] should be relieved from charge on account of the losses of 
Ordnance stores therein referred to, as lost by unavoidable accident, 
and the recommendation has been sent to the Auditor Mr. McCalla 
in order to acquit you of further accountability for them. Respect- 
fully Sir Your Obt. Servt. 

J. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 8:348). JCF's 26 April letter was entered in the register, 
but is not found. Presumably the relief also included the howitzer. 

126. Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

Washington City May 1, 1845 

I am authorized to appoint you Artist to the Expedition which is 
about to visit the region west of the Rocky Mts. Your duties will be 
arduous but strictly confined to the subjects already enumerated to 

Your compensation will be three dollars per diem, commencing 


with the date of this letter and your travehng expenses at the rate of 
ten cents per mile and reckoned by the usual mail routes, will be 
paid from this place to Independence Mo. and thence, on your re- 
turn back to Washington. 

Immediately on the receipt of this you will proceed to Saint Louis 
where the party will be organized, and await further instructions. 
Very respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Capt. Comdg. Explg. Expedition 
Mr. Edwd. M. Kern 

City of Philadelphia 

Personally appeared before me on the fifth day of May A. D. 1845 
Edwd. M. Kern and acknowledged the above to be his act and Deed 
and desired to the same to be Recorded as such and that this is a true 
copy of the Original. Witness my hand and Seal the year and day 
above written. 

T[ ?] Brazu, Alderman of Upper Delaware Wards. 

Copy (CSmH). For Edward Kern this was a most welcome letter. It had 
been more than a month since JCF had written (Doc. No. 109), a